Now here's a thing, viewers ... Robert Peston
But 1000 hours it is, on what looks suspiciously like the Good Morning Britain set, and in a time slot that forces viewers to either pre-record, or choose between Peston and Dermot Murnaghan on Sky. Viewers will invariably compare the show with The Andy Marr Show (tm), if only because one follows directly after the other, and that comparison might not work to Peston’s advantage. The studio set is one reason.
Look first at the Marr Show set. The host has one chair to his left, the sofa to his right, the table with Sunday papers, screen over right shoulder, and that’s it. It’s all compact, and paper review leads straight into interview, into weather forecast, to another interview, and so on. Not so with the Peston offering, where the host has to get up from his desk - not sure about the desk thing, works in the USA and all that, but - to talk with his pundits.
There is also Allegra Stratton, with Screeny McScreenface (tm), who managed reasonably well, despite one social media snippet going AWOL, and her tendency to punctuate her narrative by saying “Now!” on occasion, which I’m not going to bang on about because she’s heard about that several times already. But it’s another part of the studio for the cameras to have to move to. Not sure about that. Perhaps it’ll grow on me.
The pundits being present and commenting on the interviews is new and different. Alastair Campbell is always reliable, right down to reliably being caught by the camera not paying attention and Tweeting during George Osborne’s interview. Esther McVey is less so, and is another who sounds like she’s been on a diet of middle management flannel-speak. There are far better centre-right pundits around.
But what never helps in ITV land, and as I mentioned GMB, yes, it affects that programme too, is having to throw to a commercial break. Like right in the middle of the centrepiece interview. That, and the having to move between parts of the set, allows the flow to be broken up, and the commercial imperative of the broadcaster means there is no way round it. Times have changed since Weekend World - Walden would never have accepted that.
Peston On Sunday is not yet the finished article. It will improve, and perhaps not all of those features we saw today will survive the finishing process. Not a bad start, though.