BBC unveils new-look political coverage

Neil and Sampson: hosting BBC2’s Daily Politics

More regional input into Westminster political coverage, a big-name debate on major issues of the day and Charles Kennedy’s former PR are some of the major features of the BBC’s revamped political programmes, unveiled this week.

The BBC spent the last year radically reviewing its political output after researchers found politics was a major turn-off for many viewers.

This week saw the launch of the first of its revamped output, Daily Politics, which replaces Westminster Live as BBC2’s daytime coverage from Parliament.

The three-times-a-week daytime show is fronted by Andrew Neil and Daisy Sampson, former press officer for the Liberal Democrats.

Neil hosts the interviews and debates, while Sampson will make use of plasma screen technology and state-of-the-art graphics to explain the big issues of the day.

The show will also feature more outside broadcasts and reports from around the UK.

Neil will also host This Week, which begins its run on Thursday 16 January directly after Question Time. MPs Michael Portillo and Oona King will be weekly guests. The show will have a regular feature called "Bill and Ben" – William Hague and Tony Benn arguing head-to-head on the main issue of the day.

Next month will see the launch of The Politics Show. Hosted by Jeremy Vine, it will fill the old On The Record Sunday slot.

A BBC spokesman said the series would have an "old Nationwide-type feel" with a 20-minute regional "opt out" in each show.

The brief of all the shows is to connect the country at large with the Westminster village, with the emphasis on showing the relevance of political decisions to people’s lives.

A spokesman said: "The idea is to explore and experiment with new formats and find ways of engaging with the public."

By Martin McNamara

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