The BBC is still yet to set a date for Boris Johnson to face questions from heavyweight political interviewer Andrew Neil with only ten days left until the United Kingdom goes to the polls.
The corporation is continuing to urge the Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader to take part in a half-hour, one-on-one interview with Neil, but appears to be powerless to force the matter.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon have already sat down with Neil, who is set to grill Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson on Wednesday and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage on Thursday.
Johnson did an interview with Andrew Marr on Sunday (pictured) following Friday’s terror attack on London Bridge.
The programme reached an audience of 1.8m adults on average, peaking to 1.9m during the encounter with Johnson.
Some 3m people watched Neil’s interview with Corbyn last week, according to Rob Burley who edits the BBC’s live political programmes.
Asked by Marr why he was avoiding being interviewed by Neil, Johnson said: “Because I think we’ve got a perfectly brilliant Andrew interviewing here.” Marr replied that Neil’s 7pm slot reaches a different audience.
Pushed again on whether he would commit to an interview with Neil, Johnson replied: “I’m perfectly happy to be interviewed by any interviewer called Andrew from the BBC.”
He added: “By the way I have done interviews with – I did a two-hour long phone-in, I’ve done TV debates. No previous prime minister has done on-on-one TV debates.”
Johnson has so far appeared on ITV’s head-to-head debate with Corbyn, as well as the BBC’s Question Time special with all other major party leaders. He has twice snubbed leaders’ debates on Channel 4, however.
The BBC said in a statement on Saturday: “As the national public service broadcaster, the BBC’s first priority must be its audience.
“In the wake of a major terrorist incident, we believe it is now in the public interest that the Prime Minister should be interviewed on our flagship Sunday political programme.
“All parties’ election policy proposals must – and will – face detailed scrutiny from us and we continue to urge Boris Johnson to take part in the prime-time Andrew Neil interview as other leaders have done.”
The Conservative Party has yet to reply to Press Gazette on whether Johnson will be interviewed by Neil.
Press Gazette understands an Andrew Neil interview that had been scheduled in TV listings for this evening, since changed, is one of a number of extra slots made available in case of scheduling issues with politicians and was not specifically for Johnson.
Polling day is on 12 December.