TV/Film/Theatre

CNN Talk to go Daily - Hit CNN International Show to Run Five Days a Week

7 Mar 2018 at 10:00


This is the press release CNN have just issued announcing that CNN Talk is going 5 days a week from next Monday. I’m incredibly proud to be part of this show and even prouder that it has become so popular the world over. Last May we launched it and in September it went two days a week. It works because all four of us – Ayesha Hazarika, Liam Halligan, host Max Foster and me all get on well and gell together in a unique manner. We have had some feisty debates but the audience knows that even if we sometimes exchange some firey words we all have an innate respect for each other.

CNN Talk with Max Foster is to run five days a week from Monday March 12, the network announced today.

The panel show, which airs on CNN International and live streams on Facebook simultaneously, was launched in May 2017; in addition to CNN International’s global TV audience, it reaches up to two million Facebook users. Programmes stimulate thousands of comments online from across the world, many of which are added live to the debate on air. Topics reflect the major news stories and talking points of the day

Host Max Foster will be joined by regular guests Ayesha Hazarika MBE, former UK Labour Party Special Adviser who is a columnist for The Scotsman and London Evening Standard as well as a comedian and broadcaster; UK radio station LBC presenter and political publisher, Iain Dale; and Liam Halligan, known for his regular columns in Britain’s Sunday Telegraph, The Spectator and Unherd.com. CNN correspondents and other experts will also regularly join the show as guests; Christiane Amanpour, Nima Elbagir and Fred Pleitgen have all featured in recent shows.

Gill Penlington, Senior Director, News & Events Programming, at CNN International, said: “From the very beginning this show has struck a chord with audiences. The level of engagement we’ve seen has been phenomenal. Having a daily edition of the programme will allow us to get into a wider range of topics through the week and broaden what is already a diverse and highly flexible agenda.”

Recent CNN Talk shows have focused on topics including Donald Trump’s presidency, Brexit, gun control, international terrorism, sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement. The show has travelled to Berlin, Brussels and Paris, covered the royal engagement from outside Buckingham Palace, and discussed the Parsons Green bomb attack in London from the scene.

CNN Talk airs Monday to Friday at 6am ET/11am GMT/12pm CET*, from 12 March.

After the clocks change it will switch to its regular time of 7am ET/12pm BST/1pm CET, from Monday 26 March.

If you’ve never seen an edition of CNNTalk, here’s what you’ve been missing. By the way, we have the cameras on for 5 minutes before the show starts for the Facebook audience, and they stay on during the ad break in the middle.

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WATCH: The Andrew Marr Show Paper Review & My Red Suit Jacket (But Not the Trousers)

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ConHome Diary: It's the Way Theresa May Tells Them! Boom Boom!

2 Mar 2018 at 12:25

I had to smile when John Major said there should be a free vote on the Brexit deal. As an ex Whip himself, and someone used to the black arts of the genre, he knows full well that no government could allow a free vote on an issue of this constitutional magnitude. This is no issue of conscience, it’s one of implementing government policy. I well remember the Maastricht debates and the whipping methods that were used to “persuade” recalcitrant Eurosceptic MPs – or ‘bastards’ as the then prime minister was apt to call them – to go through the division lobbies in support of their own government’s policy. And quite right too. But irony or ironies, it seems to have escaped everyone’s notice who was the whip responsible for getting the bill through Parliament. Have a guess… go on… Well, it was none other than one David Michael Davis. I’d love to be a fly on the wall when DD next meets JM. Could be quite a conversation!
*
I know this sounds too much like a conspiracy theory but many people are interpreting Michel Barnier’s press conference remarks as a blatant attempt to topple Theresa May’s government. The theory goes that he and the Commission are in league with Labour and the timing of the release of the draft legal agreement was timed to coincide with Jeremy Corbyn’s new policy of staying in a Customs Union, and by in effect trying to annexe Northern Ireland the Commission is putting forward a legally binding proposal which they know the prime minister cannot possibly accept – or more to the point, the DUP cannot possibly accept. Why say it when you know it must be an absolute red line for the UK, and you know that full well? I don’t normally buy into conspiracy theories, but this one may have a few legs.
*

On Wednesday evening Theresa May gave a speech at the Westminster Correspondents Dinner. This is a bit like the White House Correspondents Dinner, but about a hundredth of the size. I’ve just seen the first 10 minutes of the speech on Facebook and it was truly funny. Quite why the speech isn’t filmed or televised, I don’t know, because it showed a side of the Prime Minister we rarely see. She actually has a very well developed and somewhat risqué sense of humour, and Number Ten should let it be seen much more often. One anecdote she relayed was while canvassing in her constituency at the election she knocked on a door but there was no reply. She knew someone was in because she could see through the window that they were lying down. She knocked again. Again, no answer. She then noticed the door ajar so she pushed it open. It was at that moment she realised that the person lying down was actually lying down on top of another person. “It brought a new meaning to the term ‘deep and special relationship’…” she said. Boom boom.
*
The lazy British media are in full “aren’t we crap because we can’t cope with a bit of snow” mode. Truth is that if we did what they seem to want us to do and spend a huge amount of money on snow ploughs and gritters and extra equipment to make sure trains run, it would only be deployed once or twice every five or ten years. The Germans manage better than us for the very simple reason that it happens every year there. Germans change their tyres every autumn and fit special winter grip tyres to all their cars. Can you imagine if we were told to the same? Me neither. Keep calm and carry on.
*

Talking of the snow, on Wednesday I nearly didn’t make it into London. We live on a hill and our driveway is at a 30 degree angle. It took five attempts to get my car onto the road. The trains were running OKish, so job done. Or so I thought. In the middle of my radio show I saw a text saying that Southeastern Trains were cancelling all their services on Thursday. I checked on TheTrainline.com and sure enough, everything was cancelled. I booked myself into a hotel, because I absolutely had to be in London yesterday as I had to attend the Global Awards in the evening. Sadly though, even though I had had the foresight to bring in a change of shirt and undercrackers, it meant that the world would be denied the sight of me in my new red suit. Yes, you read that correctly. I’ve discovered a website shop called Empire Outlets. I never thought I’d order suits on the internet, but I took the plunge and have now ordered three from them. Cheapish at around £150 and great quality. I did wonder what the red one would look like, but I’m delighted with it. I’ll wear it on TV one day so you can judge for yourselves. And before anyone asks, no, I have not been paid to write this, or offered a freebie. If I get good customer service, I believe in saying so, just as I would if I had had a bad experience.

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Personal

The Loneliness of a Tunbridge Wells Park Runner

24 Feb 2018 at 16:00

I hate running. Absolutely loathe it. Cross country running at school was one of the most hated moments of my week. But running is healthy and at the age of 55 and living a very sendantry lifestyle, I know I need to get fitter. I’m a type 2 diabetic with out of control blood sugars. I like all the wrong things. Getting my diabetis under control is something that will only happen if I eat and drink more healthily and do more sport.

To be fair to myself, I’ve lost quite a bit of weight and my blood sugars are much better than they were. I was around 16 stone 7 for most of the second half of last year. I’ve lost five pounds since then.

Last week I decided to do the Tunbridge Wells park run at Dunorlan Park. I did it a couple of times at the beginning of last year but didn’t continue. It was, well, not much fun. The first time I went with our local MP Greg Clark, who is about as lean as you can get. He bounded off and if memory serves correctly he finished in about 23 minutes. Suffice to say, I did not. It was also wet and muddy and I just thought: “this is not for me”. After the second time, I never went back.

I love competitive sport. I used to be a half decent tennis player, but last year had another go at that, but the intervening twenty years had taken their toll. I kept going for balls which in 1998 I’d have easily got. Not now. Twice, I went arse over tit – the second time very painfully. I was playing a 25 year old friend, who luckily couldn’t serve very well, so I still ended up winning 6-0, but it was so frustrating not being able to move around the court like I used to. Maybe doubles is something I should try… Still, the serve was still there. I could always zing a good serve down the centre…

Anyway, last week, for reasons best known to myself, I thought I’d give the park run another go. I was going to bein Norfolk, and a friend in Norwich persuaded me to go to Blickling, but in the end we didn’t go. So I went to the Tunbridge Wells one instead. I didn’t really have the right kit, but who cares what you wear when you run. It was a bit cold so I put on two layers under my red fleece. At the age of 55, skimpy turquoise shorts weren’t perhaps the most fetching thing to wear down below, but needs must. I texted Greg Clark to see if he was going, but he was canvassing instead. Likely excuse.

Park runs start at 9am prompt and are 5 km long. I was held up a bit due to a lack of de-icer for the car window, but arrived in Dunorlan Park just in time for the start. “What AM I doing,” I thought as we headed off down the path. My main aim was to not finish last. Last year I remember managing to finish second from last, beating a rather porky ten year old!

There were 181 runners, most of them young and fit. I was overtaken by most of them within 500 yards of the start. Keep running, keep running, I kept thinking to myself. The moment you stop running and walk, it starts to go to pot. I kept running for about the first kilometre and overall I reckon I ran – ok, jogged – for around 75% of the time, maybe more. But it was an exercise in humiliation. It was quite clear that I would struggle to finish anything but last. I was lapped way before I’d even completed the first of the two circuits of the route. But on I went. As I passed the car park, I did for a moment think about veering off and driving home, but that would have been even more humiliating. No one need have know. But I would have known, and that would have been enough.

So it was half way. It was at that point I regretted wearing three layers. Somehow I managed to keep going. Yes, I walked a bit more of the second circuit that I did the first, but that was inevitable. I was in a group of four and was determined to beat at least one of them. In the end it because a race between me and a rather fit looking 35 year old woman. She ran out of puff right at the end and I managed to keep ahead of her at the finishing line. It gave me a peverse amount of pleasure. But it still meant I had finished second last, or so I had thought. In actual fact there were four more people being us so I finished sixth last. It was a terrible time, though. 44 mins 52 seconds. That was two minutes worse than I had done a year earlier. I just had to face the fact that I am ageing. Badly.

But ever the glutton for punishment, I decided to do it again today. When I got in the car it told me the temperature outside was minus two degrees centrigrade. I was half way there when I realised I had forgotten my woolly West Ham hat, which had kept me warm last week. Oh well, too late. I was determined to beat my time last week and try to finish a little further up the field. I managed to keep running for much longer and I think I probably ran for 85% of the time. I was lapped far further along the route than last week – well, maybe 200 yards, and by the end of the first lap only 8 people had lapped me. But I looked at my phone, and it had still taken 20 minutes. But on I went, determined to beat last week’s time. And I did. By one minute 25 seconds – 44.30. To be honest I was a bit disappointed, as I thought I had run much more and much faster. Next Saturday I’ll be in Norfolk so I’ll go to Blickling and see what I can do there.

Running in a park run is actually quite a lonely experience, especially when you don’t know anyone and are trailing most of the field. You’re only really competing against yourself, whereas I like competing against others. Golf is the only other sport I play much nowadays, but golf takes so long. I can’t play during the week, and can only really play when I’m in Norfolk. I hope I shall be able to play much more often this year, though.

Will I continue with the park running? I hope so, as I know I feel better for it. I really want to see the weight on the scales start with a 15 rather than a 16. That hasn’t happened for many years… And if it helps my blood sugars get down to where they should be, all to the good. My next aim is to go to a gym a couple of times a week, but I can’t do that on my own. My friend Dan, who I beat at Tennis has become a bit of a gym bunny, so hopefully we are going to start going to a gym in Tonbridge, which I can go to when I get home from work a couple of evenings a week. We will see.

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ConHome Diary: Misleading Remainers, Taking on the Halal/Kosher Lobby & the Joys of Being James Cleverly

23 Feb 2018 at 14:19

Balanced broadcasting is all about offending people equally, so this week I furthered that cause by offending both muslims and jews. Twice. On successive days I did phone-ins on whether Iceland is right to ban male circumcision and then whether Halal and Kosher animal slaughter should be outlawed in this country. It’s safe to say that peace and harmony didn’t break out on either subject. I’m quite clear that I don’t believe in inflicting unnecessary pain on babies or animals – a view which doesn’t seem to be prevalent by proponents of either religion. Indeed, it was seriously argued that circumcision causes no pain to babies because they can’t feel it. It was likened to a paper cut, can you believe. It was then argued that it’s more hygienic not to have a foreskin. The point no one could counter was when I said that if God hadn’t wanted us to have a foreskin, he wouldn’t have given us one. And if it was so useless, why hasn’t it been bred out of us. People also argued that slitting an animal’s throat caused them no pain. They reckoned it severed a nerve. Luckily a vet rang in to explain to these poor deluded fools that they have been misled, and that the animals would be in a great deal of pain. The fact that 55% of Halal/Kosher abattoirs failed hygiene tests didn’t seem to worry the proponents of religious slaughter. I was informed by my guest from Halal Consultations that the Prophet Mohammed himself had decreed that animals should be slaughtered in this way. I perhaps didn’t help interfaith understanding by telling him: “I don’t care what you prophet thinks – we live in the 21st century, not the dark ages”, but there we go. If we can’t, as a society agree, that if we have to kill chickens, sheep and cows so we can eat them, then it must be done in as humane a way as possible, then how can we describe ourselves as humane?
*
So net immigration from the EU has dipped below 100,000 for the first time since 2013. If you voted Brexit and immigration was one reason, you probably view this with a degree of positivity. If you voted Remain, you may think it’s a sign that we’re on the highway to hell and this is yet further evidence of economic bad news. On the other hand, if you’re like me you probably shrug your shoulders and despair at those at either extreme. They key word here is ‘net’. There are still 90,000 more EU national coming here than are leaving. Given that we can’t fill thousands of jobs with domestic workers I can’t really foresee a time when this will change. It may be that the numbers from the EU drop because we will presumably not give EU nationals preference over people from other countries outside the EU. If we don’t do that, it would be rather pointless to have left in the first place.
*

Following the release of the immigration figures the political editor of the New Statesman tweeted this:
“Net migration from the EU to the UK has fallen below 100,000 for the first time in nearly five years. The Brexodus is underway.”
Eaton is an intelligent man, but this is just utter bollocks. Either he doesn’t understand the term ‘net migration’ or he is suffering from the same sort of post Brexit PTSD that has afflicted Professor A C Grayling, among others, where their Remainery blinds them to simple facts. A Brexodus is not underway. Far from it. There are now 3.8 million EU nationals in the UK. In June 2016 there were just under 3.6 million. It would be nice if George admitted he was wrong, but I won’t hold my breath.
*
On Wednesday night I went for dinner with a friend at the Gay Hussar restaurant in Soho. It’s a famous haunt for politicos, but has for some time been in danger of going out of business because its landlord wants them out. I joined a co-operative a few years ago designed to raise money to fight a legal challenge of necessary. So I suppose I am a very minor shareholder in it. Its food is mainly Hungarian and in the past had a reputation, shall we say, for being a bit shit. So I was delighted to find it has massively improved! I had the Gulasch soup to start with followed by a very tasty Wiener Schnitzel with a pepper salad. I did, however, forget to check if it had been killed in a non Halal or Kosher way… My bad.
*

I don’t know how many of you listen to Matt Forde’s Political Party podcast, but if you don’t, check out his interview with James Cleverly, recorded in front of a live audience. It’s 90 minutes long and I have to say it’s one of the funniest, most engaging interviews with a politician I have heard in a very long time. James is naturally funny, but he managed to combine being funny with making some very good political arguments in front of an audience, which I suspect was rather anti Conservative by its very nature. Some politicians can be very funny at the expense of their own party and colleagues. James didn’t fall into that trap, or the trap of being a pundit/commentator rather than an active politician. So many politicians become robots in settings like this, but James isn’t of that ilk. Some of his colleagues should have a listen, and then learn.
*
Last May I started a new political panel debate on CNN International called CNN Talk, alongside Liam Halligan from the Telegraph and former Labour SPAD Ayesha Hazarika. Chaired by CNN’s Max Foster, it soon become quite a popular addition to their schedule. Initially shown once a week on Fridays at 12 noon, in September we added a second show on a Monday. From next week it goes three times a week with a Wednesday show added, also at midday. I think it works because the three of us get along well and like each other, but we’re not afraid to have a real row if there is genuine disagreement. And presenter Max lets us get on with it, without it all being about him. Other presenters could learn a lot from how he chairs the debates. If you’ve never seen the show, do tune in at midday on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on Channel 506 on Sky or its also streamed live on the CNN Facebook page. The comments from people who view it there are also fed into the show from all around the globe.

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WATCH: Iain Takes on Halal Defender - "I Don't Care What Your Prophet Says - I Care What the Animal Suffers"

21 Feb 2018 at 23:01

We did an hour long phone-in on the fact that the NFU has questioned religious slaughter of animals. It’s probably one of the most heated debates we’ve had recently. Here you will see the first ten minutes, where I take on a represenative from Halal Consultations. Safe to say we didn’t see eye to eye.

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