It's Sunday, it's 0900 hours ...
Sadly, it has not. And the impression is given that the Beeb’s management knows it hasn’t: otherwise, why would the BBC website carry, on its opening page, an item telling us “LIVE Harper and Nandy face Kuenssberg’s questions”? Is the Laura K show now being commodified in the same way as the latest outing for Strictly Come Dancing? Or is it just desperation?
Why there might be more than a little desperation is not hard to understand: the edgy aspect of panel guests who might react in, shall we say, an unpredictable manner has been swiftly excised, so today we got a Tory MP, the General Secretary of the TUC, and someone with their own show to plug. There would be nothing coming out of left field. It would be safe TV.
But it would be tedious TV: the only moderately interesting moment came not from Ms Kuenssberg, but from Frances O’Grady making, with some passion, the case for workers to be adequately rewarded for their efforts, especially those who work long hours for modest reward in and around the NHS.
We got Transport Secretary Mark Harper. Who he? He was tedious, the lines of questioning were tedious, and what was a nailed-on certainty was that his presence was not going to be balanced by an interview with Mick Lynch of the RMT, or Mick Whelan of the ASLEF. No, the balance came from Sunday morning politics show regular Lisa Nandy. Who was not in the studio.
The interview of Ms Nandy demonstrated superbly why the Laura K show might be shipping viewers: it was the usual utterly predictable litany of lame Gotcha questions, which anyone with brain plugged in and a hole in their backside instinctively knew that Ms Nandy would bat away without a problem.
Would Labour hand out inflation busting, or at least inflation matching, pay rises to nurses, rail workers, teachers and lecturers, and any other group now threatening or taking strike action? Would she stand on a picket line? What about the Single Market and Customs Union? What about Free Movement? How many houses would Labour commit to build? At least we’re no longer getting the ultimately trivialising “Can a woman have a willy?”
... and the audience is suitably enraptured
You knew what Ms Nandy was going to be asked, even before the interview started. The only moderately interesting input from the panel, apart from the urging to understanding from Frances O’Grady, was that Tory MP Jake Berry was not coming out with guns blazing. There was no “yah boo lefties” from him, but instead, more circumspection, a more listening mode.
Otherwise, it was a singularly pointless hour’s television. There was none of the light relief one might have expected from the Marr Show in the form of human interest or entertainment news and interviews, or of course the musical interlude to close the show. And if there is so little point to it, the question has to be asked: is there not a better use of licence payer funds?
We are being told, for the most part, what the political and media establishment thinks of itself regarding the issues du jour. And it’s downright boring. Small wonder the new channels peddling what Jon Stewart called “Opinutainment” are finding a niche for themselves, albeit minor and as yet unprofitable. And the rest of BBC politics output is often little better.
The supposedly flagship debate show Question Time has been bedevilled by accusations of audience stacking in favour of right wingers, bias and poor handling of debates by host Fiona Bruce, and the over-representation of those Astroturf lobby groups and their hangers-on who are invariably described as from “think tanks”, rather than the hard libertarian right.
This matters: the mood among the public is slowly but surely darkening, as realisation dawns that living standards are going to get worse for the next two years - maybe longer - while across the Channel, EU member states just get on and continue their journey of steady economic growth.
The BBC needs to inhabit the real world. And make more worthwhile TV.
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