Media

Why Jacqui Smith and I Are Saying Good Bye to the Sky News Paper Review

22 Mar 2017 at 14:13

h/t to @Liarpoliticians for the video clip.

Last night on Sky News Jacqui Smith and I announced we were doing our last paper review. (CLIP above). Several of you have been in touch with both of us to ask why.

I started doing paper reviews on Sky around 17 years ago. Jacqui is a comparative ‘newbie’ having been doing them for around six years. I’ve had various on screen partners – first Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, then Zoe Williams and, for the last five or six years, Jacqui Smith. We usually do every other Wednesday night. Not too long ago we were told we had the highest ratings of any pairing (including Pierce & Maguire! and suggestions were made that we might like to do it every week. Given that I live in Tunbridge Wells, and not London, and Jacqui lives in Worcestershire we declined that offer as we have to stay the night in London or get home really late.

Late last year our bookings seemed to get a little lighter. Fair enough, we thought, as long as we’re getting one a month, that’s fine. However, last night’s was the first booking since early December, and the next one they offered us was in mid-May. Apparently, a new broom in senior management has decreed that there should be more Corbynistas and Americans on their paper reviews. Neither of us have any argument with that whatsoever. We’ve had a very good run and enjoyed it. We both love Anna Botting and it’s a shame we won’t be appearing with her again, but we both feel that it doesn’t really work for us if we’re only on once every other month with no certainty. On-screen partnerships don’t work when you have to spend a bit of time getting into the groove again. So we both came to the conclusion it was best for us to call it a day.

Broadcasting to a ‘grateful’ nation is a real privilege – no one has a divine right to go on doing it forever. We pulled the plug, not Sky, even though I have to say Sky’s actions hastened the decision. But we make absolutely no complaint. As we said in the clip above, we’ve been very grateful for the opportunity and we leave with only fond memories.

Anna Botting is one of Britain’s finest news broadcasters. She can turn her hand to anything, as you’ll see later this evening, when she hosts the News at Ten live from Mosul. She has an infectious personality and is one of the best things on Sky News. It was nice to do our final show with Steve Dixon, as he was one of the first presenters I ever did a paper review with – back in the days when I would be nervous as a kitten!

Jacqui and I have become firm friends as a result of doing the Sky press preview and we’re continuing our relationship by editing a two volume set of biographies of female MPs together, ‘The Honourable Ladies’, which will be published late next year. However, I’m sure we’d both like to continue our on-screen relationship, so if the editor of THIS MORNING is listening….

So thank you, Anna, thank you Sky. And thank you Jacqui! It’s been great fun!

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