Dimbleby returns with the promise of success

Audience stars in new Sunday lunchtime political show, while female pan ellists make their mark on `Question Time'
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The Independent Online
"After you've launched a new programme the sense of relief is almost tangible," said Eddie Morgan, editor of the Jonathan Dimbleby Sunday lunchtime political programme which started yesterday.

Despite the buzz of the LWT hospitality room, he said: "I'm trying to be grim-faced about it. There is a lot of work to go into it, to make it a great addition to political programmes alongside Question Time, Election Call, and Any Questions."

But it might just become one. The 1.10pm programme, which replaced the Brian Walden interview, is beamed live without any edit or time delay and is divided into two equal halves; first a fairly traditional interview between Jonathan Dimbleby and guest politician, yesterday John Prescott, deputy leader of the Labour Party, followed by a lively and informed studio discussion with 100 invited guests.

"I enjoyed it immensely," Dimbleby said after the programme.

"What I didn't know was how the audience would feed into it. The answer was brilliantly."

For him it was a return to political interviewing after taking an eighteen month break from the rival BBC programme, On The Record, to write the biography of Prince Charles.

Just to convince us that it really was live there was a fairly tense exchange when Mr Prescott called Jonathan, `David'

"My name's Jonathan," Dimbleby said.

Mr Prescott replied: "I've got a son called David and a son called Jonathan. I knew this would happen. . .I prefer you anyway."

Dimbleby shot back: "I understand how it happens. I've lost my car too. . ."

Just in case the politicians feel picked upon and outnumbered by the public they are being given the right to a last word - a 60 second summing up .

Yesterday's discussion focused on moves to modernise the Labour Party, the balance between private ownership and public ownership and how Labour would redistribute wealth and power to the poorer sections of society. Mr Prescott said they were trying to present traditional values in a modern setting.

That could serve as quite a good summing up for Jonathan Dimbleby.

It wasn't mould-breaking; 102 talking heads instead of two.

Mr Morgan said he just hoped that in future the audience discussion would be more focused. But there speaks the authentic voice of LWT's current affairs department, which has always had a tradition of well-scripted shows.

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