|The Newsnight production team in full-on tragedy mode|
Tears flowed as joyful journalists and news editors hugged each other and danced around their desks - whilst in Christchurch itself, reporters were all smiles as they booked themselves back into the hotels they had just left to catch the next flight home.
“Realistically, there was little hope of this story clinging to life after this length of time,” said one, as he asked the hotel barman for a receipt. “There’s only so much mileage you can get out of saying how New Zealand is so like England, because at the end of the day it plainly isn’t. The streets are clean, the buildings aren’t ugly, people have decent jobs and a high standard of living and everyone’s happy. To the British people, it’s just another foreign country full of foreign people who happen to speak English.”
“Now, however, everything has changed,” he said, knocking back a double Scotch and asking for a refill. “With two Britons confirmed dead and more missing, this has now become a national tragedy for the folks back home. Hic.”
A BBC spokesman at Television Centre confirmed the happy news that the story was indeed alive and well.
“In fact, it’s on its legs and running about already,” he beamed. “For a while there it was touch and go, and I thought we were going to have to embark on a period of mourning and wailing, full of sob stories about the tragic state of the economy, job losses and service cuts. But this makes us stop and realise just how precious a gift death is.”
A Downing Street spokesman said that the government, too, was overjoyed at the miraculous revival of the story, and urged the British public to keep its eyes firmly fixed on the other side of the world.