I do like to do a bit of talent spotting, so this time last year I compiled a list of ten people who I tipped for a bit of stardom in 2019. I reckon I didn't do a bad job...
My tips for 2020 will appear over the next couple of days...
Research Fellow, IPPR & New Statesman Columnist
I first came across Grace Blakeley when she appeared on my Monday Night Panel on LBC. I can't say I agreed with much she said, given her Corbynomical standpoint, but she is the best advocate of left of centre economics I have seen. Since that appearance she's been prolific in her writing and her media appearances and has bagged a weekly column on the New Statesman. I reckon 2019 is going to be a big year for her.
VERDICT: I was bang on!
Brexit Commissioning Editor, The Telegraph
Asa has come a long way since he interned with me at Total Politics. He's been at The Telegraph for some time now and has done a brilliant job with his Brexit emails and commissioning. During 2018 he upped his broadcast media appearances and has become one of the most eloquent and entertaining Brexit commentators. He had a very sardonic sense of humour and I can imagine him becoming a parliamentary sketch-writer before too long.
VERDICT: Now a constant fixture on our TV screens. Dodgy jumpers, though :)
Media & Entertainment Editor, Sunday Times
I wrote about Grant earlier in the year HERE. Grant was my PA from 2010-2012 and since then has gone on to great things, He worked for a think tank for some time before joining The Times as a diary journalist. In October he joined the Sunday Times and has already got some good stories under his belt. He is also a good, but fairly inexperience broadcaster. I've always said he'd end up presenting THIS MORNING.
VERDICT: Broke some cracking stories in 2019 and established himself on the Sunday Times.
Political Correspondent, The Guardian
There aren't many better story-getters in Westminster than Jessica Elgot. She's had a number of big breaking news exclusives during 2018 and because of that has been a regular on my LBC show. I can see her getting a big promotion in 2019 at The Guardian, and many of their competitors won't have failed to notice her story-getting abilities.
VERDICT: Her star has risen both in print and on TV where she's a regular on Politics Live.
Nikki Da Costa
Former Number 10 Director of Legislative Affairs
I didn't know of Nikki's existence prior to her departure from Downing Street this autumn. Since then she's become an authoritative pundit on the broadcast media on various programmes. It's clear she's a big loss to Number Ten, but its equally clear that she has a stellar future ahead of her in whatever field she chooses. I just pray she eschews the world of political lobbying.
VERDICT: Now back in Number Ten, she became a fixture on all political TV shows in the first half of the year.
Midfielder, West Ham United
Declan Rice has already played 50 games for West Ham, either in central defence or midfield. He's only 19 and IMHO is better than Rio Ferdinand was at that age. He's played friendly games for the Republic of Ireland but Gareth Southgate is trying to lure him to play for England. This guy is a West Ham and England captain of the future, mark my words.
VERDICT: Now an England regular.
Konstantin Kisin spent the first twelve years of his life in Russia before emigrating to England with his parents. He hit the headlines earlier this month when he railed against a Code of Behaviour the LSE expected him to sign before doing a comedy gig there. He refused. he also co-hosts the Triggernometry podcast, where guests are interviewed for an hour on current issues. Expect to hear a lot from him in 2019.
VERDICT: My prediction came true. One of the stars of this year's Edinburgh Fringe.
Given the terrible quality of the other contestants. there was only ever going to be one winner of this year's X Factor and that was Dalton Harris. His performances were mesmorising. The majority of X Factor winners fade into obscurity but there's something different about Dalton.
VERDICT: Quieter year than I expected but he's back with a cracking new single, CRY.
Winger, West Ham United
Grady Diangana is only 20, but he made his debut in the 8-0 thrashing of Macclesfield Town in the League Cup in September, scoring two goals. Since then he's made a huge impact on the first team whenever he's played. So far he's made a couple of starts but mainly featured as an impact sub. He can beat players for fun, and a good eye for goal. He has the world at his feet.
VERDICT: Out on loan to WBA this season where he's scored goals and been one of their star players. Will be a West Ham regular next season.
Politics & Investigations Editor, Manchester Evening News
Jennifer Williams first came to attention in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena terror attack in June 2017. Since then she's won various awards for her journalism and deservedly so. I expected one of the big papers to have lured her to London by now, but maybe she's happily settled in Manchester. She's also making an impact on the broadcast media, something I expect to increase in 2019.
VERDICT: A cracking year for Jess. She goes from strength to strength.