Sky News presenter Adam Boulton has described the BBC’s interviews with political leaders from their kitchens as “woeful”.
Last week, Prime Minister David Cameron told BBC deputy political editor James Landale that he would not serve a third term in power during the kitchen interview.
But, speaking this morning, Boulton said the in-the-kitchen interviews do not address “issues of substance”.
Boulton revealed that Sky News has turned down these sort of interviews for ten years and dubbed them “old telly”.
Speaking at the London School of Economics’ Polis Journalism Conference, Boulton said the packages “breed a certain kind of insidious intimacy”.
The Sky News journalist was critical of the Conservative Party being "reluctant" to go ahead with more leader debates ahead of this year’s election and blamed it on a “myth… that the debates somehow cost them an overall majority” in 2010.
Last night, Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband were questioned by Jeremy Paxman and studio audiences on Sky News and Channel 4. The pair are not set to debate each other directly, but will appear alongside five other party leaders on ITV next week.
On the BBC’s kitchen interviews, Boulton said: “No disrespect to James Landale, who is a friend and an excellent journalist, I think those things are woeful.
“I think they are conspiracies, effectively, within the Westminster village between political broadcast journalists and politicians.
“I think they are entirely artificial, they give a bogus sense of familiarity. Everything is always negotiated down to the last tee.”
He added: “We can discuss later, perhaps, whether David Cameron meant to make his statement, of the obvious, about whether he wanted to continue as Prime Minister after winning a third election or not… my own view is that it shows that these things are dangerous.
“It shows that they’re dangerous largely because, served up with… pictures of the kitchen and interviews with wifey, we end up obsessing about minor details, rather than issues of substance.”
He was also critical of the “traditional news conference and the traditional television interview”, which he said tended to consist of “long patches of tedium interspaced by blunders and gaffes”.
Asked by James Rodgers, a City University lecturer, whether what Sky could have done differently with the kitchen interviews and whether it would have turned down the opportunity, Boulton said: “We have actually refused to do those sort of days out with the Prime Minister and party leaders for about ten years now, because… we describe it as old telly…
“We have put a lot of effort into what we believe television does best, which is the live spontaneous encounter debates – clearly something we’ve put a lot of effort into, but also things like the ‘ask the leaders’ and we’ve done similar projects online.”
He added: “I’ve done many days out with party leaders. You know, get out, get on the train, do the interview on the train – which is about the worst possible place ever to try and interview anybody – scramble together a few spontaneous looking shots, pull it together and you’ve got your package.
“I don’t think anyone is any the wiser and I’m afraid I think it does breed a certain kind of insidious intimacy between the journalist and the politicians they’re covering, which I don’t is particularly appropriate.”