Mad dash to Iain Dale’s new TV (internet) company, 18 Doughty Street, for its inaugural program. A cab is sent for me – but sod’s law – gets stopped by security coming into the Commons to the Members’ entrance. After 15 minutes waiting for it to clear, the policewoman on the door where I am waiting calls to the search post to find that they have found something in the engine they don’t like and are holding the cab pending the arrival of further security experts. So – not wanting to completely ruin Iain’s opening show, (which I am extremely flattered to have been asked to do!) I run out into the street, literally throw myself in front of a taxi and we arrive with about 10 minutes to spare.
There are lots of people and a reasonable degree of uncertainty about whether the mikes should be placed. The other guest – Fraser Nelson of the Spectator – arrives even later than me! Lucky I put my make-up on myself before coming – as there wouldn’t have been time and this was no night to frighten the audience. Chaos appeared to reign – but miraculously as go live 9pm struck – the studio was clear and we were rolling.
Iain’s co-presenter Rena who was absolutely lovely and just the right person to have alongside Iain. And, hats off to Iain. I cannot imagine the stress of going live on your first TV program with guests, films, texts, emails and so on. I don’t know how it came over (pretty well I would have thought) – but I think Iain’s desire was for it to not be so desperately tribal as most format political shows – and to bring in the very live, live media feeds combined with real political discussion. Not soundbites and even allowing a full half hour – yes half hour – for debate on a single topic debate.
So we started with Graham Norton and drugs, followed by remembering a Tory parliamentarian – Eric Forth who died quite recently, followed by blogging (very brief) and then the half hour debate on ‘Rogue States’ – mainly North Korea and her impossible to rein in nuclear progress. I was trying to defend the United Nations which was being attacked as toothless and useless by Fraser and Iain. Challenged to find some way in which they hadn’t been useless – nothing came to mind. Of course, the next morning I remembered a whole slew – including the recent ceasefire in Lebanon / Israel. Love live TV!
Of course, everyone condemns North Korea – but I am not sure that anyone has got any useful answers. Sanctions – yes – but they generally hit the poor people not the despot rulers.
So – a bit of TV history! I really enjoyed it. I hope it does develop into a whole new genre of political programming and formats. I thought it went extremely well, am delighted that there is a challenge here for the very traditional fare that is usually political programming, think Iain is very brave and wish it every success for the future.
Just a PS. I was so worried about the poor taxi driver that had been held at the Commons that on the way home I phoned the company that the TV firm had sent to check. They rang the driver and he was OK. They had found what they thought was a bullet in the engine. The security squad had come and it had turned out to be some sort of bolt and then he was let go. So he was OK. And I was quite impressed that they had actually seen something and stopped someone – albeit in this case happily with no bad outcome. But they search all the cars in and out – including mine when I take it in – and I always think ‘are they really looking’?. Clearly yes. 10 out of 10 – even though it nearly gave me a heart attack thinking I wouldn’t get to the church on time.