Friday, February 15, 2019

So farewell then Andrew Neil and This Week

It was announced today that Andrew Neil is giving up presenting This Week and the BBC is taking the opportunity to scrap the programme.

There was a time when I never missed This Week. The problem, as a confirmed hater of Question Time, was how to fill the 20 minutes between Newsnight ended and it began.

Then I got older and realised that I could go to bed and watch it on iPlayer the next day.

Then I gave up watching it at all.

There were always too many "funny" items that weren't funny - step forward Kevin Maguire and Quentin Letts.

But Andrew Neil is a better broadcaster than the Dimblebys added to John Humphrys and multiplied several times over.

OK so he has run with the hare and hunted with the hounds too much recently, but at his best he is peerless. The BBC should have made better use of him.

I remember, in the days when he was seen as a meritocrat from a humble background, Neil's forensic politeness forcing from Michael Gove the admission that his adoptive parents had paid for him to attend one of Scotland's most expensive private schools.

And This Week could be brilliant. I remember a riveting discussion of alcoholism with Shirley Williams and Rosie Boycott on the evening of the day that Charles Kennedy resigned as Liberal Democrat leader.

I used to grumble about its late-night slot, but maybe the BBC should have made a virtue of it and made it open ended - something along the lines of Channel 4's old After Dark.

If you keep politicians up late enough and lubricate them with Blue Nun, they start to tell the truth.

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