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London - It is an issue which can bring even the happiest couple close to blows: who controls the television remote control. And it is no different when British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha sit down in front of the box in their Downing Street flat.
He has revealed that he does what millions of men do: grabs hold of the remote and channel hops from one ‘rubbish’ programme to another. And Mrs Cameron does what millions of women married to such men do: stomps off in exasperation.
In one of his most candid and intimate interviews since becoming Prime Minister, Cameron has told The Mail on Sunday that:
* He has banned his children from having mobile phones or music and video game devices.
* The family have a ban on watching TV on Saturday and Sunday morning.
* He does not want his children to know what ‘twerking’ is.
* He wanted to ‘thump’ people who said the death of his disabled son Ivan at the age of six would ‘have a silver lining’.
* He played the drums in a school band at Eton.
* He is a ‘classic Church of England member’ – not the type to ‘drop to my knees for divine guidance’ and regards the Bible as a ‘handy guide’ to knowing right from wrong.
In the interview, Cameron confesses to the ‘annoying male habit of channel-surfing’ on the TV.
‘I watch a lot of rubbish,’ he admits. ‘I love murder mysteries and things like that on a Sunday night to escape from it all.’
Asked who controls the remote, him or Samantha, he pleaded guilty: ‘I drive her mad because I sometimes watch more than one thing at a time, and then she’ll leave the room.’
However, Cameron is rather more strict when it comes to what his three children, Nancy, nine, Elwen, seven and Florence, three, do for entertainment. They are banned from having video games, mobile phones or tablets (though they are allowed to use their parents’ iPads ‘from time to time’) and on weekend mornings are banned from watching TV.
‘I try to get them away from the Disney channels to watch nature programmes,’ he said. ‘We try to limit screen time. We have rules. At the weekend: no television in the morning. We don’t do morning TV – they should be doing something.’
The rules seem to be working. He says Elwen ‘plays a lot of football and rugby’ and had tried his hand at DJing at a friend’s party, while Nancy was taking part in ‘an amateur opera.’
Similarly, traditionalist Cameron has avoided telling them about ‘twerking,’ the provocative dance made famous by pop star Miley Cyrus, who previously starred in the children’s TV series Hannah Montana.
‘My children are too young. Luckily they haven’t connected this lovely Hannah Montana, who is now this person twerking.’
But he may be fighting a losing battle: they have already noticed swearing in pop songs. ‘They say, “Daddy, that’s the bad this or that word.” They are very conscious of that and they don’t approve of swearing.
‘They are quite right – the artists are wrong to swear, although I can’t say I totally live by those rules myself.’
The Prime Minister reflects more sombrely on the deaths of his father Donald in 2010 and his disabled son Ivan in 2009, venting his frustration with those who told him ‘some good’ could come out of such a tragedy.
‘Even though Ivan was very disabled and very ill, it was all just a total shock. We had no idea he was going to suddenly die in the way he did,’ he said.
‘But the person who says to you, “There’s a silver lining to all this,” or “Some good will come of all this,” you actually want to thump.
‘It’s the most annoying thing anybody can possibly say.’
Reflecting on his own childhood, Cameron praised his favourite teacher at Eton, the ‘wonderful’ Michael Kitson who ‘woke me up to the excitement of history’
And he revealed a modest, musical talent: he had played the drums in a school band – and ‘once stood in for someone in a jazz band, for one night only’.
He also talked about his religious beliefs, saying: ‘I’m a classic Church of England member, but part of its strength is the fact that it doesn’t ask us to sign up to too much of a canon... but I’ve always found the teachings of Jesus and the Bible quite useful as a sort of handy guide.
‘But there are plenty of other guides you could use. I find this one works for me.’ - Mail On Sunday