I don’t know how many of you watch ITV’s The Agenda, fronted by the excellent, and mischievous Tom Bradby, but if you don’t you ought to. He has four guests on a panel and they chat about four or five issues in the news. It usually includes a high profile politician. Cameron, Miliband and Clegg have all appeared on the programme, alongside journalists, actors and celebrities. It’s a good natured chat, heavy political point scoring is off the agenda, and the format gives a politician a chance to show that he or she is a member of the human race.
On last night’s edition, George Osborne made a rare media appearance alongside Rowan Pelling, Sir Christopher Meyer and Fiona Phillips. I have never understood why George Osborne doesn’t do more of this type of programme. Contrary to his image, he’s actually very personable and has a very good sense of humour. But we rarely see it because for whatever reason he is kept under wraps. The appointment of former Newsnight producer Thea Rodgers to handle his broadcast media caused many eyebrows to be raised at the time, but her influence is already being felt. Last night he came across as rather shy and a nice bloke. He even seemed to charm Fiona Phillips. However, it was in fact one of Osborne’s right hand men, Ramesh Chhabra, who was behind the decision of Osborne to appear on the show, arguing that the programme hit an untapped demographic.
It may be some time before George Osborne hosts ‘Have I got news for you’, but he seems to be far better at the chatty sort of programme than most observers thought he ever would be. I suspect that we’ll be seeing a lot more of the Chancellor in the months ahead if last night is anything to go by.
* The Agenda is on ITV every Monday night at 10.35am