We all know that Britons are at their most comfortable when discussing the weather and what they have planned for the weekend, but these topics are in danger of being usurped by our obsession with celebrity deaths.
It has always been the case that awkward Pinteresque silences – the rubbish ones which don’t carry any artistic merit – are usually broken either with a discussion about politics or who in the public eye has taken their final curtain call.
Given that getting into a debate about the current state of the government, either here or anywhere else in the world, is likely to result in the loss of teeth, inane chat about which obscure former soap actor or ex-drummer of a long-since-forgotten 1970s glam rock outfit has died recently is usually the best way to break the ice.
I don’t know about you but I find it hard to get too upset about the passing of complete strangers, even if they did once appear on an episode of Wogan in the early ’90s, but there has long been a fashion for people rushing to their laptops or smartphones to register their upset at the passing of famous folk.
Politicians are among the most adept at this, although the cynic in the majority of us suspects their motivation in typing a pithy one line tribute is to demonstrate just how in touch with the rest of us they really are.
It doesn’t always work out that way, just ask poor Ed Miliband.
The then-Labour leader took to social media to mourn the passing of Bob Holness, the doyen of teatime television and hero to a generation of shiftless students, but got the name of Bob’s iconic gameshow wrong.
Rather than namechecking Blockbusters, the man who inadvertently saddled us with Corbyn told his Twitter followers how the public would always remember him for ‘Blackbusters’.
It was a gaffe which came to symbolise Miliband’s ill-fated tilt at the biggest job in British politics, and should have served as a warning to bandwagon jumpers everywhere. It didn’t.
However, there was every justification for the eruption of public sadness and affection which met the death of the king of Saturday night television, Sir Bruce Forsyth last week.
Politicians of every persuasion were joined by former colleagues, friends, celebrities and members of the public with whom the man with the most recognisable profile in showbusiness had struck a chord.
The death of any 89-year-old shouldn’t come as any shock but Brucie’s demise was one which will have elicited a ‘oh, how sad’ or ‘poor old Bruce’ from millions.
Although not personally a huge fan of the shows with which he became synonymous, the likes of The Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right and Strictly Come Dancing will always have a place in our hearts as they represent an almost bygone era – one in which television viewing was a mass participation event.
Brucie had been away from our screens for the past few years and light entertainment had already become all the more poorer for it. We really won’t ever see his like again.