Bring it on – that’s the message from the BBC's Andrew Marr Show to Robert Peston in the forthcoming battle for Sunday morning political television supremacy.
Rob Burley, Andrew Marr's editor, has questioned whether Peston, who is to launch his own rival interview show after defecting to ITV, will have the same viewer appeal as the BBC presenter.
“Robert’s a very different guy to Andrew. There’ll probably be a bit more business [on the Peston show]. I don’t know how much of a turn-on that will be for audiences,” Burley said on the Media Masters podcast.
“People enjoy the mix of our show. We have a good audience. Will Robert Peston offer the breadth of subject matter around arts? I’d be surprised, but you never know.”
ITV is expected to launch Peston on Sunday in May, although it is not clear yet if they will be scheduled against each other.
Tensions between the broadcasters increased when the ITV show poached Vicky Flind, an established BBC politics producer, to work on the Peston programme. Flind, who has edited the BBC1 politics show This Week for the past 13 years, is the wife of BBC newsreader Huw Edwards.
Burley was bullish. “We remain in pole position on Sunday morning. We have structural advantages,” the editor said. “We’re on at 9am, we set the agenda. It’s up to them if they want to put it out at the same time as us.”
The BBC editor also praised Emily Maitlis, the Newsnight presenter who has stepped in for Marr when he is absent. Maitlis was “hugely impressive. Her interviews are fantastic. She’s one of the best I’ve worked with,” said Burley, who used to work on Newsnight.