Newsnight invited me last night to discuss Timur Vermes' German bestseller, "Look Who's Back", about a fictional Hitler who wakes up in modern-day Germany and rises to TV stardom. I don't generally like giving harsh reviews, but this book did annoy me in various ways. You can watch the clip to find out why (it's right at the end, in the culture section).
I was actually extremely nervous before the show and had to keep reminding myself that I didn't have to defend any austerity measures, hadn't tried to expense a duck pond, and wasn't in any way responsible for unemployment.
Anyway, I do love a good rant. I think at some point I even talked right over Jeremy Paxman. Timur, the author, was very gracious about it. We kept arguing about the book all the way down to the lobby, and then in the BBC lobby itself. I disagree with him, but I appreciated his willingness to listen to and engage with my views. He's certainly not afraid of a row. People in the BBC lobby stopped and stared at the two randomers having a go at each other in German, with every third word being Hitler.
PS: An editor changed the headline on my original Telegraph piece about the book to
"How Germans have fallen back in love with Hitler". I didn't love the headline and got some critical comments from readers over it. However, Timur himself actually said it was a good and appropriate headline, based on the fact that so many German readers are willing to spend 400 pages inside Hitler's head, laughing with him, sympathising with him. I disagree with him on this one, too - laughing at the jokes of a fictional Hitler in a modern satire doesn't mean you would have supported him in 1933 - but Timur's clearly not afraid of wading into controversy.