FALLING asleep in front of the TV is always a tactical error, but falling asleep in front of BBC thriller The Capture in the current climate is discombobulating in the extreme.

If you haven’t watched it yet, you absolutely must, and I won’t give away too many spoilers. Suffice it to say the second series will leave you questioning everything you see and hear, especially statements from politicians and footage of their curious behaviour.

When I awoke yesterday (in bed, thankfully) to learn that Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng had U-turned on scrapping the top rate of income tax, I needed to see the footage for myself. Something about this wasn’t adding up.

Unfortunately, scrutinising “captures” of media interviews with members of the current UK Government is of no use whatsoever, and risks triggering a spiral of paranoia. In the BBC’s fictional universe, the tell-tale signs of digital trickery are things like a lagging feed, a not-quite-seamless edit or a slightly “off” mannerism, but these days you needn’t be a cyber-security expert to feel like you’re watching a live feed from the uncanny valley. I expect if you squinted hard enough at the screen during Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg, you’d start to think you could make out Liz Truss’s battery light blinking.

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The Prime Minister’s current communications strategy seems to be pausing for so long in response to questions about the UK’s economic meltdown that listeners will think the phone connection has dropped and change radio stations accordingly. 2018-era jokes about the Maybot ring hollow now that it seems the Prime Minister really might be waiting for someone to WhatsApp her the right lines from a script, or even feed them into software that recreates her trademark stilted delivery. Clips of Michael Gove gurning in the Commons start to look wholesome compared to those of Kwasi Kwarteng swaying and chuckling to himself at the Queen’s funeral.

On a good day, this bunch of smirking chaos merchants behave like juddering automata from a chamber of horrors that someone either needs to wind back up or – preferably – smash into tiny pieces and throw down a deep well.

Let’s not forget that Truss was selected despite the fact that she is incapable of anything resembling competent delivery of sentences – maybe even partly because of it.

“I may not be the slickest presenter in the business,” she understated to viewers of a BBC debate back in July, implying there was something highly suspect about Rishi Sunak’s ability to sometimes fluently answer the questions put to him as though his human brain and flesh mouth were actually connected to each other.

Setting aside – with some difficulty – the fact that the people running the UK are giving off heavy Invasion Of The Body Snatchers vibes, let’s consider the substance of what they are saying and doing. The Capture grapples with big issues of national and international security and the risk of politicians being compromised, corrupted or simply removed and replaced by foreign actors (whether by political skullduggery or technical trickery). It doesn’t take a detective inspector to start questioning why a government minister might be making decisions that appear – to anyone with half a brain – to be entirely against the national interest while ignoring the advice of the relevant expert committees and offering implausible rationales for what he’s doing.

Could it be the result of a blackmail plot? A symptom of a brain tumour? Or does it point to the existence of a global tech conspiracy that goes deeper than even the spookiest spooks of MI5 comprehend?

Unfortunately, once again, truth is stranger than fiction, and the British public have simply had to resign themselves to the fact that there is no deep-state or deep-fake conspiracy here: Tory politicians really are just trashing the UK because they are villains or idiots or some combination of the two.

If Truss and Kwarteng are being manipulated, it’s been going on for a while and it’s not been very subtle, because they sketched out their radical economic ambitions in their 2012 book Britannia Unchained, even if Truss was rather coy about her actual policy plans during the appalling waste of time that was the recent Tory leadership campaign.

It’s Kwarteng’s U-turn that should raise suspicion, given how recently he and Truss were firmly asserting that they were right and everyone else was wrong and that they weren’t afraid to do things that would make them unpopular. They don’t really expect us to believe that the shorting of the pound was the result of a silly misunderstanding, but they’ve stopped short of saying it was a price worth paying.

Perversely, the best outcome for the PM and her Chancellor might be for the media to howl that they are incompetent, that they didn’t think through the consequences of their actions and that they accidentally caused economic mayhem. The alternative, of course, is that they knew exactly what they were doing and what the result would be. And isn’t that the scarier possibility?