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Matt Chorley Interview: ‘Who Is In Charge Here?’

 Lauren McGaun

On Saturday 19th February, Matt Chorley will be at Nottingham’s Lakeside Arts as part of his political stand-up show ‘Who Is In Charge here?’. Impact‘s Head of News, Lauren McGaun, speaks to Matt about the intentions behind his tour, why he thinks political humour is so popular, and how turbulent Westminster politics has been in his past 17 years of reporting. 

Impact‘s interview with Matt Chorley started after he had been stuck in a lift for ten minutes at Times HQ. “I am now out of the building, you have my full attention,” Chorley said, after he had been compared to Michael Gove stuck in BBC’s New Broadcasting House. 

Chorley has been interested in politics from a young age, but as he couldn’t go to university, his first job in the industry was at local paper Taunton Times.

Starting on local papers gave Chorley crucial skills in accuracy and a real understanding of people’s interests. “I think the big thing I’ve learned is if you get something wrong on a local newspaper or website, the people you’ve got the story wrong about will turn up in reception and they will tell you in no uncertain terms that you’ve got it wrong.” 

he’s described his career journey since as a ‘rollercoaster’ 

After a few years, the journalist moved to London, but was still unclear how to work in Westminster. After a short stint at the Press Association, he was offered another job by them working in the Press Gallery, reporting on what MPs said in the Commons.

He’s described his career journey since as a ‘rollercoaster’, reporting on new Prime Ministers, referendums and the financial crisis, amongst a plethora of other issues. 

Matt Chorley now presents the Times Red Box Podcast, hosts a mid-morning Times Radio show from 10am-1pm weekdays and is a Saturday Columnist for the paper, alongside his work as a stand-up comedian. 

Since 2005, when Chorley first started political reporting, the divisiveness of political debates has grown immensely.

Chorley’s main aim is to bring humour to politics

“People need to be slightly more thoughtful with their language. I’ve interviewed several MPs who’ve been in Westminster for a long time, who’ve said, not only are they going to stop, they hate it. That’s a really depressing thing.”

The intention behind Chorley’s new stand-up tour – coming to Nottingham on the 19th February – is to “leave people with a smile on their face”. Chorley’s main aim is to bring humour to politics, but he also sees value in giving audiences an insight into the behind-the-scenes workings of Westminster.

“Whether it’s how you put a budget together or what a backbench MP actually spends their time doing. Just explaining how some of that works, I think people will enjoy it.”

When asked why these issues are important to students, Chorley pointed to the passionate political debate of young people on issues such as climate change, housing, and wages.

“I actually think the current generation of young people are very political. I just don’t think they necessarily see an interest in traditional Westminster politics,” argued Chorley. 

Chorley hopes to bridge the gap between Westminster and the public in his tour, finding out about local concerns and how that links to government policy decisions. 

“If you’re at university, you can vote. The more people that know about the choices on offer, that can only be a good thing,” he added.

Chorley has built up a deep connection with listeners 

Working in both podcasts and radio, Chorley sees the value of audiences being able to consume news content in the easiest ways for them.

“I think the fact that audiences can pick and choose, that really changes the way that they are consuming that news, rather than people having to tune in when it’s live.”

Chorley has built up a deep connection with listeners, with many sending him messages of support during key moments, such as the Westminster Terror attack, a family bereavement, and his birthdays. He’s described the social element of radio as ‘amazing’, helping listeners struggling with loneliness during the lockdowns. 

Whilst Chorley is still very much focused on his current stand-up tour, he loves the thrill of being out on the road and hopes to do more events in the future. 

“Read the news, watch, listen and consume as much as possible.”

Matt Chorley rounded off the interview with some words of wisdom for aspiring journalists and broadcasters, emphasising the importance of persistence and enthusiasm.

“Just get as much experience as you can. Just say yes to everything. You don’t want to be exploited but if someone asks you to do a task, just say yes. Your hard work will eventually be recognised.”

“Read the news, watch, listen and consume as much as possible. Just get a feel for what you like and how other people do it. Gradually, that will just become second nature.”

Matt Chorley will be at Lakeside Arts, next to the University of Nottingham’s University Park Campus, on Saturday 19th February at 7:30pm. Tickets are now sold out but you can contact the Box Office on 0115 846 7777 to be added to the waiting list for the event. Details of future tour dates can be found on Matt’s website here

Lauren McGaun

Featured image courtesy of David Burns PR. Permission for use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image courtesy of @MattChorley via No changes were made to this image. 

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