BBC reveals format for new current affairs programme

People just aren’t interested in programmes presented by faceless people whom they don’t relate to in any way any moreRichard Sambrook

The BBC is expected to launch its new current affairs show in the autumn in the wake of the ratings success of its most recent venture, Kenyon Confronts.

A new magazine-style show, with the working title Four by Four, is being planned for the Monday slot at 7.30pm where Kenyon has drawn audiences of around 5 million for the past four weeks, despite the fact that the programme is pitched against Coronation Street.

Reflecting the BBC’s desire to dev-elop more popular current affairs programmes, the format will involve four people who will express their points of view on a different topic each week.

Richard Sambrook, who officially stepped into his new role as director of news this week, said he was pleased with the success of Kenyon Confronts and thought another programme at the "more popular end" of current affairs could also work well in the slot.

The success of Kenyon Confronts will fuel the BBC’s determination to bring more "personality", both to its current affairs and news, where political editor Andrew Marr and newly appointed business editor Jeff Randall are seen as trailblazers.

"People just aren’t interested in programmes presented by faceless people whom they don’t relate to in any way any more," said Sambrook. "I think the success of Kenyon Confronts shows we should be doing more personality-led programmes."

Kenyon, a Panorama reporter, was picked by current affairs chiefs to revive the "door-stepping" format previously associated with Roger Cook. The first programme, which exposed bogus marriages, attracted 5.2 million and audiences grew steadily to 5.5 million by the fourth and final programme, Costa Del Con, on expatriate crime.

But despite Sambrook’s determination to drive forward the BBC’s current affairs programming, he insisted there was no plan to return Panorama to a weekday slot: "The fact is that there is really nowhere else it could go," he said.

by Julie Tomlin

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