September launch for new ITV politics show

ITV is set to launch its revamped Sunday political programme on 17 September, Press Gazette understands.

The show will replace the long-running Jonathan Dimbleby show that has been the channel's flagship political programme.

ITV's Andrea Catherwood and The Observer's Andrew Rawnsley are believed to be the show's new presenters, and the move towards a two-person team is intended to offer a fresher approach than the traditional one-man format.

ITV had been hunting for names to front the programme ever since Dimbleby announced his departure from the show in April.

Recruiting the new presenters has been delayed by changes at the top of ITV, and it was only after the departure of CEO Charles Allen that negotiations came back on track.

The 17 September launch date is one week before the Liberal Democrats’ party conference.

The programme offers ITV an opportunity to prove that it is committed to serious programmes and meaty political coverage.

Catherwood and Rawnsley are the sort of experienced presenters that ITV believes can bring weight and authority to the show.

Rawnsley, who presents The Westminster Hour on Radio 4, began his career at the BBC, and has a strong journalism pedigree. He is The Observer's chief political commentator and formerly The Guardian's parliamentary sketch writer.

Catherwood started as a journalist in 1985 when, at the age of 16, she joined the BBC in Belfast as a co-presenter of a youth current affairs programme for which she won BBC Northern Ireland's Young Presenter of the Year award.

She went on to report from Afghanistan to Albania, and currently is the international news correspondent for ITV News and presents the ITV Weekend News.

It had been assumed that Dimbleby would stay on as the show's presenter after ITV Productions, which made the original show, won a bidding process against independents to produce the new series last year.

Shortly after he announced his departure, Dimbleby told The Observer: "It was a difficult decision. I love doing the programme, but I'd like to get a life."

The programme had been losing viewers, and by April this year the show was attracting an audience of around 350,000.

The Sunday political interview show was a format original to ITV; in 1972 LWT launched Weekend World, presented by Peter Jay.

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