Still way out in front of its rivals in terms of ratings, and having seen off the challenge from ITV political editor Robert Peston’s show, BBC flagship Sunday politics offering The Andy Marr Show™ has managed to brush off complaints over the right-leaning paper reviewers, staged confrontations which give off more heat than light (hello Isabel Oakeshott), and remains the show every London-based pundit wants to be a part of.
Not so cheery yesterday
Moreover, the security of Andrew Marr as lead presenter appears unassailable. He’s been in the role for 13 years, come back from a debilitating stroke, and shown himself to be better overall than any number of stand-ins. His interviewing style is persistent but never angry or shouty - or rather, it was until yesterday.
Marr was interviewing Shami Chakrabarti - Labour’s representative on the show - on the party’s Brexit stance. She did not seem fazed or impressed by Marr’s line of questioning. There was no trace of anxiety. And then he snapped. “I can't understand why you want to leave the EU ... you're going to go to a general election campaign as a member of a party who says we are leaving the EU” he told her. Then came the reply.
“I'm a democrat, I don't know about you Andrew but I'm a democrat”. The result of the referendum should not be disregarded. Marr could have responded “So are we all”, or “You’ll be glad to know that I too am a democrat, so what’s your answer?” Instead, he snapped “Don't try and patronise me, I'm as much a democrat as you are”.
Even the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog described the exchange as “testy” and concluded “Awkward doesn’t begin to cover it”. They are not fans of the Labour Party, and certainly not Baroness Chakrabarti.
The Independent put it more directly: “Veteran BBC political broadcaster Andrew Marr lost his cool with a senior Labour figure after suggestions he was not a democrat”. Perhaps Marr was unhappy at the brush-off he received after asking if she had read the withdrawal agreement: “Yes I have actually. I’m sure you have too”. After he ventured “I’ve read an awful lot of it”, she rubbed it in with “Well I’ve read it all”.
Chris York at the HuffPo summed it up: “Labour's Shami Chakrabarti Left Stunned After Bruising Interview With Andrew Marr … Things got rather heated … Labour’s Shadow Attorney General was left almost dumbstruck”. Right-leaning press outlets, inevitably, called it for Marr. But those on the left were not happy at all.
The Mirror told readers “Viewers were stunned today as BBC host Andrew Marr snapped at Labour's Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakribarti … The meltdown came during a testy exchange on his Sunday Morning Politics programme”. Meltdown once more.
What had got into The Great Man? Had he been ground down by his interviewee’s mild disdain? Was the Sky News scoop of securing interviews with both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn for Sophy Ridge’s show, which went out an hour before Marr’s, and no minister of cabinet rank being offered to the Beeb, getting to him?
Whatever the reason, as Zelo Street put it, “.@AndrewMarr9 snapping ‘Don't try to patronise me’ at Shami Chakrabarti not his finest hour”. I’ll just leave that one there.
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