First Sight: Politics Show, BBC1

Welcome to the rave new world of politics, with not a tie in sight
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Indy Politics

Futuristic TV sets, purple chairs, lounge-lizard music. Oh, and not a buttoned-up shirt or tie in sight. If not for the presence of Jeremy Vine, viewers might have thought they were watching an advert for a trendy new nightclub.

Futuristic TV sets, purple chairs, lounge-lizard music. Oh, and not a buttoned-up shirt or tie in sight. If not for the presence of Jeremy Vine, viewers might have thought they were watching an advert for a trendy new nightclub.

Welcome to the rave new world of the Politics Show, BBC1's flagship political programme (the clue is in the title) for all those bored of the traditional Sunday lunchtime pursuits of having a lie-in, watching the footie or carving a roast with the in-laws.

Of course, with few in the House of Commons aged under 40, most of our MPs are more acquainted with a hip op than hip hop. But despite its official claim that the programme had "no specific brief to appeal to younger viewers", the Beeb's latest offering was clearly aimed at getting in that all-important yoof vote.

Any show that has as its catchphrase "Taking politics from Downing Street to your Street" might be setting itself up for a fall. But, this being the first edition, it deserved the benefit of the doubt.

Doubt was duly benefiting when Mr Vine opened the show with an attempt at a joke. In the week that saw Britain's transport networks grind to a halt thanks to a dust of snow, Mr Vine said, ashen-faced, that "there has been more embarrassment for rail chiefs ... A man who was delayed on an intercity train for two years arrived at Newcastle Central Station, where he called for the resignation of Stephen Byers." Cue tumbleweed and silence.

The show promised to "lift the lid on the politics of asylum" and expose Labour MPs' opposition to war on Iraq, as well as give airtime to "serious and reflective" thinkers and a new cartoon strip. Unfortunately, its producers felt they had to jazz it up with tracking camerawork worthy of Martin Scorsese, Mr Vine's lame gags and a Blairite belief that taking your tie off gets you closer to the viewer. As the PM discovered last year, being tieless in Gaza doesn't mean the Palestinians will like you.

Some things were unchanged from the On the Record days, not necessarily for the worse. The set-piece interview with John Reid and accompanying piece on Labour dissent were done well.

But the attempt to be achingly hip (and boy did it ache) was dreadfully laboured. Someone should tell the Beeb that that maroon colour is soooo last century, darling – never mind Mr Vine's open-necked checked shirt.

Most worrying was the 20-minutes local politics insert. We all know that the most dreaded seven little words ever to come out of a television are "and now for news from your area", but the phrase "and now the POLITICAL news from your area" is guaranteed to strike narcolepsy into any viewer. To be fair, the London discussion on terror attacks wasn't all that bad.

One point of confusion is the programme's name. For some bizarre reason, probably known only to a tieless BBC corporate strategist, the programme is called Politics Show, not The Politics Show. Its logo features a big PS. Whether the viewers will PS off and watch something else will be seen in the coming months.

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