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​A Tribute to the Impossibly Uncomfortable Banter of ‘This Week’

A constant attempt to prove that politics doesn't have to be boring has left us with the weirdest show on TV.
May 18, 2016, 11:00pm

It's the dying hours of a Thursday night, another working week is nearly over and you find yourself in front of the television. Question Time has rumbled to a close, the boom operator's finally had a chance to rest his arms, the outraged eurosceptics and weird looking students have shuffled out of the town hall and David Dimbleby's packed away all the chairs. You reach for your third tinnie, give it a rattle and realise there's barely a dribble left. You consider going to bed, glancing at the time, and move for the remote. It is then that a lilting, irrepressibly smug Scottish accent greets you.

"Evenin' all!"

You stop – despite every bone in your body telling you not to – fall back into the sofa and watch. This is This Week. This is where banter comes to die.

This Week has run for the best part of 13 years, introduced as part of a new wave of political programming by the BBC. Headed up by Scottish journalist Andrew Neil, flanked most regularly by Michael Portillo and Alan Johnson, the show likes to think it takes an irreverent, satirical glance at the previous week of international politics. What it actually does is something else entirely. Part of it is robust political interviews and fairly thoughtful discussion of the week's events. Fine. But in a constant attempt to prove that politics doesn't have to be boring, the show has also developed a singular and utterly unforgivable strain of banter – no, anti-banter.