Over the years I have appeared many times on the Daily Politics, but never This Week. If I am honest, it rankled a bit and I had always wondered why. It’s funny because everyone, including members of the This Week production team, seemed to think I had been on many times.
Anyway on Thursday afternoon I was preparing for my LBC show when the phone rang. It was a very nice This Week producer who said that given the events of the morning (Gove had ratted on Boris) their plans had been thrown up in the air and they wondered if I would like to make the Take of the Week film and appear live on the programme with Andrew Neil, Michael Portillo and Alan ‘AJ’ Johnson. I decided that on balance I would!
I explained my take on the Boris/Gove fallout and the kind of thing I’d want to say, but also that I couldn’t start doing the film until after my show finished at 7pm – would that be a problem? In the end it turned out not to be and sure enough, just before 7pm the crew turned up at the LBC studio. It took about ninety minutes to do the filming, which was mainly my fault as I couldn’t remember my lines and we had to do lots of retakes!
After we finished, I grabbed a bite to eat then headed over to The Shard to do a turn on Al Jazeera English with Lauren Taylor for their 10pm news programme. Their studios are quite something – far more glitzy than their competitors.
I arrived at the BBC Millbank studios at 10.45 and had a good chinwag with Alan Johnson, one of the nicest people active in politics today. Eventually Michael Portillo arrived in what I can only describe as his ‘elf suit’. Watch the video and you’ll see why. I said that no man of a certain age should appear in public in red trousers. Alan Johnson disagreed. He reckoned no man of any age should appear in them. A fair point. Over the next few minutes David Starkey, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh and Rachel Shabia turned up.
My section was the first on the show so I was soon taken through to the studio, the same one that they film The Daily Politics in. I was delighted how the film turned out. I joked to Andrew Neil half way through that I hadn’t realised the BBC now allowed advertising and product placement. Watch it and you will see what I meant! If LBC had had to buy the advertising in that piece I imagine it would have cost several hundred thousand pounds.
The ensuing discussion was rather longer than they normally allow and was very enjoyable. I thought I might be a bit nervous, but I suppose because I know this subject I inside out, I wasn’t. You can watch the discussion for yourself so I won’t bother rehearsing it here.
And then it was done. I walked out of 4 Millbank to be driven home. There was a phalanx of Mercedes E Class cars waiting. Great, I thought. I won’t have to suffer a Prius. I was wrong. I got a Prius. Obviously cost cutting at the BBC, which, of course, I have to approve of. Even when I’m the victim! Lol.
Andrew Neil tweeted the following morning that the programme attracted a record audience of 1.23 million viewers, which is remarkable when you think the show started five minutes late because Question Time overran. Naturally I take full credit!
Video hattip @liarpoliticians