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BBC News Fix

  • BBC News Presenter Count 2015: Victoria Derbyshire

    In the nicest way possible, I admit that I’m not convinced by BBC Two’s and the BBC News Channel’s “centrepiece” show on the mid-morning checkerboard. Not that we’re playing chess, but… ah, I was a loyal listener of Derbyshire’s on BBC Radio 5 live (yes, add that to the last ‘big life reveal’ of mine that I used to watch Breakfast at 6 in the morning… daily). Derbyshire exceled in the interviews and originality of her journalism, her human touch really getting to the depth of stories and what their implications are, an ability that few radio show hosts could identify. Her live outside broadcasts from remote places such as undercover abortion clinics and hostage-holding Guantanamo Bay were, quite frankly, inspiring. Live-on-location, wise, Derbyshire hasn’t done this yet on television, not a whole programme. Taking the normal agenda, though, to the visual and spectral heights of live television? It just doesn’t work for me, not the in-studio debates with half a dozen common folk who, to be like Charlie Brooker in saying this, here, look more interested in debating how on earth they ended up on the show…

    I’m being mean. But watching that first week in April (yes, I call it research)… eat your heart out, Matthew Wright. Of course, Derbyshire is more apt to tackling big news and rollicking headlines and her election coverage was, as always, impressive. But this show isn’t going anywhere and it worries me most that the BBC News Channel choose to put their feet up when, between 9.15 and 11am, stuff happens. The show just feels like Newsnight, but Newsmorn – which is ironic, because I swear they use the same studio. Anyway, it’s Newsnight plus “we care about the views of people who have way too much free time to even care about a news agenda at 9.15 in the morning.” It’s even evolving into Loose Women, in places. I miss the ‘BREAKING NEWS’ ticker, I really do. Oh, and Matthew Amroliwala. But I’m over him. Rant, in fact, over. Here’s the count:

    (1) Victoria Derbyshire – 101

    (2) Joanna Gosling – 66

    (3) Naga Munchetty – 14

    (4) Jane Hill – 3

    (5) Julian Worricker – 2

    (6) Ben Brown – 1

    Norman Smith – 1

    The sub-hosts have been well chosen, though note that Brown was a reporter on-scene, that we’ve credited.

    Gosling should be respected for fitting into the format so comfortably and, with regards to having to broadcast on this show more in the autumn, being so consistent. Maybe, just maybe, Gosling needs to leave the BBC News Channel for bulletins or even Newsnight? I doubt it, but… you never know. Munchetty impressed over the summer, but her Working Lunch background did show, here. As for Norman Smith: hmm… interesting. Let me get back to you on that.

    More Hill and Worricker, please, with regards to Fridays, at least – I’m not capitalising on Derbyshire’s absence, here, I promise. She's great. It’s touching, actually: Worricker was Victoria’s co-host for several years on 5 live Breakfast. That seems eons ago.

    As for the show, let me clarify: I’m actually happy to see a weekend visual highlights show of Victoria’s best interviews like we used to have, because those interviews really are stunning. And, on a personal note, I’ve found it brave of the host to open up about her cancer treatment – get well soon, Derbyshire. But… I just wanted her to stick to radio. It was a risk bringing the show (which is the problem, not Derbyshire) to television, and sure things have to change on 5 live but… you’ve made a mistake, Head of Television and Radio, whoever you are, a mistake that may affect Derbyshire’s likeability and career.

    The future: discuss. I’m not raising the stakes, here, with regards to what happens in the next year. But really, get well soon, Derbyshire, you’re a trooper. The show, for what it’s worth, just isn’t the same without you.

    Coming soon: the 2015 counts for the BBC News at One, Five and Six.

    Tom Scudamore,

    BNF’s weekend resident

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