Listening to these circular, fruitless interviews, I just wonder what the purpose of it all is. Politicians need to be held to account, but when Robinson is asking people close to the Prime Minister questions that amount to what his curtain budget should be, it all starts to feel like a Monty Python sketch. Of course it matters how much elected officials spend on things. But when politicians aren’t ashamed of anything anymore, and a global health crisis is always the main news story, what can a topical news programme do about it?
The Today programme, with its tightly guarded regular set pieces (the 8.10 interview; the weather; Thought for the endless Day) is starting to feel almost quaint. Lately I’ve found I get almost as much insight into the news from the brief bulletins on the Zoe Ball show on Radio 2 as I do from hearing the whole of Today.
Woman’s Hour (Radio 4, Monday to Saturday), by comparison, is blazing forth into the future. Regular readers of this column may recall that two weeks ago these pages called for Radio 4 to drop the 15-minute drama that takes up a quarter of the programme’s allotted time and turn Woman’s Hour into a full hour. Well, after a fearless Telegraph campaign lasting less than a fortnight, Radio 4 has capitulated. They have announced that, starting from May 17, Woman’s Hour is indeed to be extended to a full hour. Is this one of the most efficient newspaper campaigns in history?