A MAN, a woman, two chairs, three cameras and a couple of lights. The room was otherwise bare of decoration, so determined was the BBC team behind Dominic Cummings – The Interview, that nothing should distract from what was being said.

For some, the encounter may have brought to mind other classic television jousts. Frost/Nixon. Wark/Thatcher. Paxman/Howard. Day/Nott. There was even an echo of Diana and Bashir, but with the tables turned and the woman as interrogator.

The Telegraph, which was to feature in the interview, quoted a government source describing the exchange as “Prince Andrew level”.

That seemed a low blow more designed to reflect badly on Mr Cummings than flatter Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC political editor who had secured the first sit-down television interview with the Prime Minister’s former chief advisor.

The name that came to my mind by the end? David Icke.

Mr Cummings won’t take offence at such a comparison with the former broadcaster turned conspiracy theorist (though Mr Icke might). Dom is fine with personal attacks. All part of the cut and thrust of politics, he told Ms Kuenssberg. “If people have a pop at me you don’t see me crying about it."

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Which is just as well, because taking a pop at Cummings is proving to be quite the fad. Remember the old “clackers”, two rock hard balls on a string, beloved of children everywhere until the broken wrists started? That’s Mr Cummings. You really should steer clear of the man, but boy is it tempting. Clack, clack, clack and it is off to A&E again.

What is the correct response to Mr Cummings’s increasingly odd interventions in public life? Should one laugh, cry, support independence for Scotland to get us away from such a shower? It was a question missing from Ms Kuenssberg’s list, but it is worth asking.

As the man himself said, he is not done yet. There will be another time, another place, another blog post. Options set out for himself at the end of the interview included starting a new party (if it was good enough for Alex Salmond…), or taking over an existing outfit, as he admitted Vote Leave had done with the Conservatives.

Mr Cummings had already said his piece before a committee of MPs in May, and one heck of a firework show he provided over seven hours.

Some of the same lines emerged in Tuesday’s interview, but Kuenssberg skilfully mined her own scoops, among them the Prime Minister having to be told not to visit the nonagenarian monarch at the height of the first Covid crisis, and the plot to oust Boris Johnson within days of his winning the 2019 General Election.

The real difference here was the personal approach taken, and the responses it produced. Kuenssberg seemed genuinely shocked to the core on the electorate’s behalf that Mr Cummings could so blithely admit to being creative with the truth, whether about his trip to Barnard Castle or the £350 million for the NHS pledge during the EU referendum campaign.

She was even taken aback on learning that Mr Johnson called the Telegraph, where he had once been a highly paid columnist, “my real boss”. People will wonder who you think you are, she told Mr Cummings at one point (memo to BBC: sign him up for that show pronto; I doubt there is a connection to Rasputin or Machiavelli, but he could come from a long line of pioneering opticians).

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Kuenssberg is not the only one to be shocked by Mr Cummings. Also wading in was Sarah Vine, Daily Mail columnist and estranged wife of Michael Gove, the Minister who, according to a deal brokered by Mr Cummings, was to be the Chancellor to Mr Johnson’s PM. Ms Vine, who has known the former aide for getting on 20 years, said he had a “brilliant mind” but likened him to Prince Harry as a narcissist. The Dom she knew would have thought a sit down with the BBC, Harry and Meghan-style, an act of “spectacular idiocy”.

Accusing him of being obsessed with Carrie Johnson, she generally went to town on her old pal. Her basic argument was the same one that has burbled out of Downing Street from the beginning of the Covid crisis and will be repeated all the way to the public inquiry and beyond. In short, the PM did his best in the worst of circumstances, and it is doubtful anyone else could have done better.

I don’t believe that for a second, and neither does Mr Cummings.

This is one of several infuriating things about the PM’s former lackey. He is arrogant, condescending, and all the rest, but he had Boris Johnson’s number from the start. What Mr Cummings has said about the handling of the crisis chimes with what many people already think, hence why it has not had the shock value one might have expected.

With a couple of exceptions, Mr Johnson and his Ministers were duffers, the public could see that, but then the vaccine came along and saved the day. Science, allied to brute capitalism, triumphed, even if the story is far from over yet.

With all kudos to his interviewer’s skill, the greatest wounds suffered by Mr Cummings on Tuesday evening were self-inflicted. The only time he looked happy was when he was smirking at his own supposed cleverness during the EU referendum. The £350m line. Turkey on the brink of joining the EU. Believe Brexit will work out for the best? Nobody can know that for sure. What japes.

It was at this point that Mr Cummings began to “lose the room” as they say. If he brought anything to the Vote Leave campaign it was his determination not to talk down to Brexit supporters. Let the Remainers think them mugs; he wouldn’t take them for granted. Yet it turns out he did, or so it appears.

Where he went far beyond the pale was in portraying himself as a puppet-master, pulling the strings of voters and Ministers alike. He and his “network of people” – whoever they might be – were acting in the best interests of the country though, so that was all right.

Mr Cummings is the latest in a long line of questionable sorts who find fault with democracy and politicians and reckon they could do better. There is one simple cure for that ill – he should stand for election himself. Otherwise, best stick to the day blog and other hobbies.