What did you watch last Sunday morning? On BBC1, Andrew Marr hopping from moped to papers and politicians. On ITV, Murder She Wrote repeats and The Jeremy Kyle Show.
Perhaps it’s no wonder then that director and former ITV documentary filmmaker Peter Kosminsky branded the broadcaster a “politically toothless organisation.” Sundays are politics-free zones on ITV.
The channel has never really filled the hole left by Jonathan Dimbleby a decade ago. Formats have come and gone, without much success or fanfare.
We’ll have to see about the success, but there’s been fanfare aplenty for Robert Peston’s anticipated move to ITV. Journalists have predicted it, BBC colleagues have mocked it – the media cannot get enough of the economic editor’s career jostlings.
Intriguingly, Peston looks set to be offered both the job of ITV political editor and a new Sunday morning talk show to rival Marr’s.
He might not be stepping into a ready-made format, but there’s no doubt it’s a coveted slot. After all, ITV was the home of Frost on Sunday. No shadow hangs quite so heavy over long-form political interviews than that of Sir David Frost, but if Peston enjoyed his rambling radio interview slot with colleague Eddie Mair, why not aim to play the same game on TV?
And if you think that Peston’s move condemns him to obscurity, David Frost’s son Wilfred has other ideas.
“That Sunday morning slot, whatever the viewing figures, it still commands an extraordinary place in British political life,” he said at the Cheltenham Literature Festival before news of Peston’s proposed job switch broke. “I was covering the Brighton Labour conference last week; Corbyn’s speech was on Tuesday, he did no media before it and then did most of the media rounds the Wednesday afterwards.
“But Andrew Marr had already had 40 minutes with him on the Sunday before that. I still think that slot is one of the few left which has a long form interview. Breakfast television on a sofa is still very important today, and Dad played a big part creating it.”
So Robert Peston steps into a potentially career-defining broadcasting slot, while ITV gets to show they still have bite.
No one’s saying Peston is on a level with Frost, but at least ITV seem ready to fire up their Sunday schedules again.