His authority stems not from any swaggering egotism, but just the opposite. Level-headed, reserved, and understated, he is the epitome of the traditional Englishman, infused with the quality of Kiplingesque steadiness.
His calm voice has reassured the nation, just as his wisdom has guided the politicians.
It is a measure of his influence that his phrase “next slide please,” regularly deployed in Covid press conferences, has entered the political lexicon.
This week, after a period away from our screens, he was back in his usual place at the PM’s side to help launch the Government’s sensible winter plan for the continuing crisis.
As he voiced his support for this pragmatic approach, he was his habitual unruffled self, setting out the dangers of a renewed surge but avoiding any kind of alarmism.
Yet his finest moment came when he addressed the issue of vaccine hesitancy, highlighted by US rapper Nicki Minaj who claimed she refused a jab because a friend of a cousin supposedly developed swollen testicles after receiving his dose.
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