Labour Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has said BBC late-night politics show This Week was “never surpassed” and that she “loved doing the programme”, which is set to end this summer.
Abbott has been a regular guest on the show alongside ex-Tory MP Michael Portillo for around 12 years since its launch in 2003, with a brief break for her Labour Party leadership bid in 2010.
The BBC announced last Friday that it was set to axe the show in July after host Andrew Neil said he would be stepping down.
Writing for the New Statesman, Abbott said: “The popularity of This Week amazed the BBC’s management. We routinely garnered more viewers than shows like Newsnight.
“Our audience included political obsessives who had watched earlier, less successful political programmes in that time slot, large numbers of young new viewers and a relatively large BAME following.
“People told me they liked the show because they believed Michael and I actually said what we thought. BBC executive Alan Yentob once said he thought the programme worked because we all obviously thought that politics mattered.”
She added: “This Week was often imitated, but never surpassed.”
Abbott also recounted This Week founding editor Vicky Flind visiting her Westminster office in 2002 to see if she would appear on the new show.
The Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP said she was “doubtful” about the offer at the time, describing Neil as “the left’s least favourite television presenter” and adding that he did not seem thrilled to have her on the show at first.
But she said the two later warmed to one another, writing that she felt “a little pang” when it was revealed the programme would end with his departure.
The broadcaster has not yet revealed what will replace This Week, which airs after Question Time at 11.35pm on Thursday nights.
The cancellation of the light-hearted politics programme comes after it was revealed that the BBC plans to cut News at Ten by ten minutes to make way for “youth” content from BBC Three.
Picture: Reuters/Phil Noble