Andrew Neil in talks with Channel 4 about weekly politics show

Possible move follows a brief and calamitous stint with the rightwing channel GB News last year

Andrew Neil is in talks to present a weekly politics show on Channel 4, a move that would see him lurch leftwards to join what he once called “the broadcast arm of the Guardian”.

Neil, who is the chair of the conservative Spectator magazine and last year put in a brief and calamitous stint with the rightwing channel GB News, had previously dismissed suggestions about a such a move.

Channel 4 is basically the broadcast arm of the Guardian. Don’t think they’d have much interest in me.

— Andrew Neil (@afneil) August 15, 2020

The former editor of the Sunday Times is in advanced talks with the channel’s director of programmes, Ian Katz, and the director of news and current affairs, Louisa Compton, according to the industry trade newspaper Broadcast, which first reported on the development. The paper understands that a Sunday evening slot is being considered for a politics analysis show.

Channel 4 is said to be looking at an evening slot because it is reluctant to coincide with the BBC’s 9am politics programme, which is presented by Sophie Raworth after Andrew Marr’s departure.

Sky News also has a Sunday morning programme, Sophy Ridge on Sunday, which at present is fronted by Trevor Phillips. The early evening slot for the politics show means it could follow C4 News’ early evening Sunday bulletin, which airs at around 6.30pm, allowing Neil to offer analysis of the day’s news, interview heavyweight figures and look ahead to the coming week.

Channel 4 declined to comment.

Neil, 72, has described his decision to help found GB News as “the single biggest mistake” of his career. He said in an interview in November that the channel washeading in a “Fox News direction”, with its backers resembling a “Ukip tribute band”. He said he did not want it to be the “full stop” to his television career.

Despite being the face of the channel before it went on air in June, Neil left after presenting just eight programmes in three months. He resigned in September, saying he was unhappy with technical errors, the loss of top staff and the channel’s political direction.

Discussing his departure and the stress leading up to it, the former BBC presenter, who walked away from a £4m contract, told the Daily Mail: “It was a big decision but I frankly couldn’t care if it was £40m. This would have killed me if I’d carried on.”

News of Neil’s possible move follows the departure of Jon Snow, who left Channel 4 News in December after more than three decades. Snow will continue to work with Channel 4 on long-form projects and devote more time to his charitable work.

There are ongoing questions about the state-owned broadcaster’s future. Ministers are working through 600,000 responses to the government’s consultation on privatising the channel.

Privatisation could mean up to 60 British production companies going bust, according to a report published last September. The culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, told a select committee in November that a decision has not been taken and all the evidence would be considered.


Clea Skopeliti

The GuardianTramp

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