‘This Week’ began 16 years ago and I began appearing regularly half way through its life span. For some inexplicable reason the BBC decided to scrap the programme and last night was its final broadcast. Viewing figures have been consistently above a million, peaking at 1.6m. That is 16% of the entire television audience, including all the sports and TV channels, between 23.30 and 24.30 watching our modestly budgeted late-night political programme (Newsnight an hour earlier struggles to get an audience of 250,000). It is a cult amongst it’s legion of fans 600 of whom were at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster last night for a rare broadcast in front of a live audience. (It’s only happened about 5 times in those 16 years.)
Tickets were three times over subscribed and there were people who’d travelled from Northern Ireland, from the Orkneys and the Lake District to be there. The sense of affection for the programme and sadness at it’s demise was palpable. Michael Portillo and I were on the sofa with Andrew Neal as were “the lovely” Miranda Green and Piers Morgan. I’d like to say that Michael and I were the stars of the show but I’m afraid that, as always, we were usurped by Molly the Dog.
A fabulous send off for a wonderful show.