BBC boss lifts the lid on new political show’s rare female-only panel

Written by David Singleton on 3 September 2018 in Culture

Politics Live launched this morning with Amber Rudd and Emily Thornberry among the guests.

The BBC’s new daily politics show has been applauded by political and media insiders after it launched today with a panel of five MPs and pundits chatting to host Jo Corbyn.

On Twitter, New Statesman editor Jason Cowley gave a thumbs up to the “great first panel” and the “sharp and pacy” vibe of the show.

Financial Times leader writer Sebastian Payne called the set-up “shiny'n'slick” and said it was “striking to see an all-female panel on a political show (for once)”.     

BuzzFeed UK editor Janine Gibson also said it was “so cheery” see a panel of six women.

Perhaps most audaciously, BBC politics producer Liz Rawlings invoked Tony Blair in 1997 as she revelled in the launch of the new show. She marvelled: "As new dawn has broken, has it not."

Nobody mention it to diehard Jeremy Corbyn’s fans…





But it was not all plain sailing for BBC political programmes boss Rob Burley as he had to put up with a number of disgruntled men (and a few women) suddenly discovering that they cared deeply about equal gender representation on TV.

What was going on? How on Earth did the BBC end up with an all-female panel? If it was not by design, one person asked, did they just “walk of [sic] the streets and volunteer?”.

Not quite said Burley, who is not known for letting things lie on Twitter. And then he told all about how it happened:

“We just invited lots of people and the best we got were women. Sorry.”

Meanwhile The Guardian had a more wounding attack line. In an otherwise positive preview of the show in today’s paper, media editor Jim Waterson reckons that “the chatty guest format now has more in common with Loose Women than Newsnight”.





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