Max Jeffery Max Jeffery

‘My show is like life and death to people’: meet TalkTV’s Mike Graham

The wild world of the Independent Republic

Mike Graham: ‘People come up to me in the street all the time. It’s not just a show to them. This is like life and death’

Hair combed and slicked, Mike Graham sits at his big shiny desk and waits on his cue. When his guest goes rogue backstage and starts swearing at a minion, it barely registers. He remains placid. Unruffled. It’s only his second week doing TV but Mike is in the zone. Three, two, one, zero. ‘Welcome to The Independent Republic of Mike Graham.’ He grins. ‘With you for the next three hours, of course!’

Of course. Independent Republic is a daily celebration of subversive tabloid television, beamed out on TalkTV to a dependable and swelling citizenry. Mike is the republic’s leader. During those three hours he skewers a museum for cancelling Santa, jokes about a ‘mystery eye-bleeding virus’ in France, and derides our brainless politicians.

‘Conspiracy theorists would ring in. Nutters, drug addicts, drunks. We had a whole cast of characters’

Mike has taken his brand from job to job for the last two decades, and now it’s moved to its greatest ever height: out of mid-morning and into a prime-time slot at 9 p.m. after Piers Morgan. A reward to the people. ‘It’s a pretty big honour,’ Mike says, reclining on a sofa in the green room. ‘The world is a very ridiculous place, and there are a lot of ridiculous people in it. I just like taking the mickey out of things.’

Mike started Independent Republic in 2006. He was editor of the Scottish Daily Mirror, and doing punditry for the BBC on the side. They’d bring him in ‘whenever they needed some horrible hack to wheel out and beat up, for having no ethics and all that’. Talk 107, a new radio station for Edinburgh, Fife and the Lothians, offered him a Sunday show, which became a daily when the Scottish Daily Mirror folded. The programme’s director claims to have thought of the Independent Republic name.

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