Thursday nights are now a TV war zone chez nous. For years we have been angst ridden over the clashing of Question Time on BBC1 and Newsnight on BBC2 . In the end we’ve usually agreed to watch Question Time because (a) it can be seminal (b) the panels have become more interesting and (c) we kid ourselves that Newsnight won’t really bother much on a Thursday. Afterwards we drift pleasantly on to This Week, and realise we don’t hate Andrew Neil any more. In fact we love him – not so much for his politics as for his brain. Sometimes you wish he’d interview himself!
Yes, it’s been a struggle, all these years, being torn between BBC1 and BBC2 but, for some reason, we accepted this dippy, thoughtless scheduling. And now what happens? Channel 4 has put a spanner in the works with 10 O’Clock Live, that much needed and fast improving fix of weekly satire. So we watch it until 10.35 and then have a fight about whether to switch over to Question Time. (Last night husband and I nearly came to blows after he caught me hiding the remote control in the dog basket! )
But, which ever way one goes, one still has the nagging question of whether one is at the best party! Yesterday, there was the additional agony of sacrificing a report on Newsnight by personal hero, Paul Mason who, incidentally, tweeted us that they shoot 10 O’Clock Live in the very next studio to Newsnight!
Yes, we know broadcasts get repeated, one can record them, watch iPlayer, blah di blah. But the point is that all of these political progammes are the sort you want to watch live – or live-ish. It’s never quite the same the next day. And yes, in households with more than one television, people can always go their separate ways. But, if we share our homes, we actually want to watch these programmes together, so we can mutter, argue, jeer, etc. – or, in our particular case last night, go into a mutual sulk!
The mischievous appearance of 10 O’Clock Live in our Thursday night politics fest has done us a favour. It’s reminded us that the BBC has thoughtlessly allowed Question Time and Newsnight to clash for years. All these programmes are informative and opinion shaping, and particularly important in the current climate. The BBC and Channel 4 should get their acts together, put the viewer first and reschedule.
They did it with Strictly Come Dancing and the X Factor. Politics should not be treated as the poor relation.
Incidentally, the fact that Richard Littlejohn is attacking Question Time, proves just how important a programme it is.