In Depth

Boris Johnson: five awkward videos

Moments the Tory leadership front runner may wish to forget

Boris Johnson has been playing it safe since launching his official campaign to become the leader of the Conservatives.

The odds, polls and first ballot of MPs suggest the keys to No. 10 Downing Street are his to lose.

His formal campaign began last week with a speech in London described by the Financial Times as “an exercise in self-defence” as he “braced for a tough examination of a lengthy record of gaffes and mis-steps”.

“The contender was also anxious to neutralise claims from his rivals that he did not have the ‘seriousness’ needed for grave times, repeatedly stressing that he would surround himself with a serious team,” says the newspaper.

Johnson has “largely avoided subjecting himself to media scrutiny”, says The Guardian, and last night ducked out of the first TV debate of the race, with The Independent suggesting the “gaffe-prone Mr Johnson” is in “fear of making the tiniest slip”.

But few seem to think his past controversies will harm his ambitions to become PM.

“Boris Johnson is still The One and no politician can match him,” says Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun. “The man is a publicity phenomenon - one of the few people on the planet instantly identifiable by his first name. His blond thatch is a gift to cartoonists. Endearingly, he makes us laugh.”

Here are some of Johnson’s funniest moments captured on camera:

The ‘friendly’ rugby match 

In 2015, as London mayor, Johnson managed to barge over a Japanese schoolboy while playing a “friendly” rugby match in Tokyo. He was visiting Japan to boost trade and investment but took the time to play sport with some local schoolchildren. The gesture did not pan out as planned, however, when the portly mayor, racing down the mini pitch in his shirt and tie, knocked over ten-year-old Toki Sekiguchi, who was pictured wincing. “I felt a little bit of pain but it’s OK,” the youngster told reporters, adding that it was “enjoyable” to meet Johnson.

The soap star [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"94555","attributes":{"class":"media-image","style":"font-size: 0.83em;"}}]]

As well as politician and writer, Johnson can add actor to his CV after appearing on EastEnders, albeit as himself. Johnson arrived at the Queen Vic and had a short chat with Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor) in 2009. The move left former mayor Ken Livingstone in a huff, as the BBC had apparently turned down his offer to highlight a recycling campaign on the soap.

The ultimate sacrifice[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"85541","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

Also in 2009, Johnson managed to fall into a river while campaigning for more people to volunteer. He was removing litter and plants from the River Pool in Lewisham, south-east London, when he stumbled into the water and was left soaked up to his chest. It was the “ultimate sacrifice” to promote the joys of volunteering, he said.

The zip-wire[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"85540","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

In 2012, Johnson became stuck mid-air while riding on a zip wire in Victoria Park, London, to promote the Olympics. Clutching two Union flags, he sailed down the line - but stopped about 65ft from the end. Asked how he was feeling, Johnson replied: “Very, very well thank you,” before politely asking for a rope to help him down.

The Gaudino tackle[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"85542","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

In 2006, Johnson was playing in a charity football match between England and Germany when he speared retired German midfielder Maurizio Gaudino in a rugby-style tackle after just ten minutes on the pitch. He later explained: “I was going for the ball with my head, which I understand is a legitimate move in soccer.”

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