Home nations to get own BBC political slot

By Wale Azeez

Vine: will front The Politics Show nationwide

The Politics Show, the BBC’s new weekend programme which bids to take the subject to the masses, will see Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales with their own devolved slots for the first time.

Launching on Sunday, it will be fronted by former Newsnight presenter Jeremy Vine and will include a 20-minute opt-out slot for the nations and regions.

Ashok Ahir, managing editor political programmes at BBC Wales said the slot would be used to address issues in a way the other nine political programmes in the region did not. “What it allows us to do is to be a lot more consumerist in our approach to politics,” he said. “There are issues such as campaigns against incinerators or GM crops, not tested in politics in any real way.”

He added the slot would allow BBC Wales to experiment with techniques for delivering political programmes. “For example, we could lead with opinions from people across Wales and give them access to the politicians – something I wouldn’t necessarily do anywhere else.”

“We could do a little bit more than just vox pops and act as a link between different kinds of people across the country, with their different issues, to their representatives. We often chase stories, but not people stories,” he said.

In Northern Ireland, the proposition is quite different, particularly with the peace process back on the political agenda, according to Lena Ferguson, editor of the political unit at BBC Belfast.

“Because the peace process is where it’s at the moment, with a possible return to Stormont, the programme will be quite different at least for the first few months,” she said.

“We’ve never had the political apathy that exists in England over here, what with 80 per cent turnout in elections in some areas of Northern Ireland. We’ve got lots of elections almost permanently and the politicians are media savvy and tuned in to what we do,” she added.

In Scotland, the regional section will be presented by Glen Campbell, with Amber Henshaw on location. Campbell told Press Gazette the aim of the programme was to create a relaxed and accessible show. “That’s not to say we won’t take on serious issues. They’ll be taken from a popular point of view,” he said.

The regional presenters are Peter Henley for BBC South and South East; Chris Rogers at BBC South West; David Garmston at BBC West; Adrian Goldberg at BBC Midlands; Tim Donovan in BBC London; Stephen Rhodes for BBC East; Jim Hancock at BBC North West; Cathy Killick at BBC Yorkshire & Lincolnshire and Mary Askew at BBC North East & Cumbria. Rhun Ap Iorwerth presents the show in Wales and Jim Fitzpatrick in Northern Ireland.

Wale Azeez

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