A well-known Star Wars fan he might be, but Rishi Sunak appears to be a man of rather eclectic taste, having revealed that he has spent “a lot of time” indulging in the likes of Bridgerton and Emily in Paris over the past year.
Discussing his viewing habits with the Radio Times, the chancellor also told the magazine that he was an “enormous fan” of the BBC and said his “tastes are probably not quite the same” as some of his cabinet colleagues.
“Like Emily In Paris – I’m not sure how many others watched that. I’ll check,” Sunak said of the fluffy romcom, which the Guardian’s Rebecca Nicholson described as an “exorcism of all of the French cliches the writers could think of, spewed out as if they could not keep them in”.
He added that he has also spent “a lot of time” watching Netflix’s Regency period drama Bridgerton, which was released in December and became one of the platform’s most successful shows ever.
Sunak, 41, told the magazine that his memories of watching television as a child with his family were “a special part of our growing up”.
“We were never allowed to eat in the sitting room, but Saturday nights were the exception,” he said. “We would spread a plastic picnic blanket out and I’d go with my dad to pick up either Pizza Hut or KFC from Portswood in Southampton, and we – Mum, Dad and my younger brother and sister – would eat on this picnic mat and watch The A-Team, Baywatch and Blind Date, which were on one after the other.”
The chancellor also described the creative industries as “one of the UK’s crown jewels”. He has been accused throughout the pandemic of failing to protect jobs in the hard-hit sector, whose workers and businesses have been repeatedly overlooked in his economic recovery plans and job support schemes.
“It’s something we do better than most other countries; we export it around the world,” said Sunak, who supported the campaign to leave the EU in 2016. “We should be enormously proud of it, and it’s part of our soft power and brand. Brand Britain.”
Speaking about the BBC, he said the corporation must “take every step possible” to ensure that lessons are learned following Lord Dyson’s excoriating report on the 1995 Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, which found there was in effect a cover-up of Martin Bashir’s duplicitous tactics to gain access to Diana and secure the interview.
However, Sunak said he was “an enormous fan” of the broadcaster. “It probably comes from living in the States for a very long time,” said the chancellor, who obtained an MBA from Stanford University, where he was a Fulbright scholar, and continued to live in the US for a number of years.
“When you’re abroad, the BBC is your connection with home. I was living thousands of miles away in California, and the BBC was still my homepage. There’s an emotional attachment to it,” he said.