The granddaddy of them all was Lord Samuel's broadcast in 1951, a live transmission which faded out halfway through one of his sentences as he shuffled through his notes. The age of the gentleman amateur didn't last long. The next night the Tories tried to give the impression of adversarial rigour with an interview of savage, no-holds-barred deference: 'It has often been said that the Conservatives are a war-mongering party,' the interviewer said nervously, 'Is there a shred of truth in that?'
The real pleasure was the shock of the old. Veneered by television make-up, the youthful faces of David Steel and Tony Benn (or 'Wedgewood', as he was known, on account of his peerless complexion) stared out of the past, full of broken promise. This parade of chummy condescension and reckless populism (Jeremy Thorpe talks to Jimmy Savile?) needed no satire, but you could forgive the makers their last little jab. After a Green Party political broadcast ('Don't let the world turn grey. Vote Green') you were left with John Major's drive-by emoting outside his old home in Brixton.Reuse content