This Week (BBC TV series)

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This Week
File:BBC One This Week.png
Andrew Neil presenting an edition of the programme
Genre Current affairs, politics
Presented by Andrew Neil
Starring Michael Portillo
Diane Abbott
Alan Johnson
Miranda Green
Alex Salmond
Jacob Rees-Mogg
Caroline Flint
Theme music composer Jim Meacock[1]
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Executive producer(s) Samir Shah
Editor(s) Vicky Flind
Running time 45 minutes
Production company(s) Juniper TV
Original network BBC One
Original release 2003 (2003) – present
Related shows Daily Politics
External links

This Week is a current affairs and politics TV programme in the United Kingdom on the BBC, screened on Thursday evenings, hosted since its inception by former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil alongside the former Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) and minister Michael Portillo, and Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Labour Party MP Diane Abbott. The trio are sometimes joined by Molly the Dog, an Anglo-French golden retriever belonging to Neil. Molly has proved to be a very popular addition[citation needed] to the regular line-up. During her unsuccessful campaign in 2010 to lead the Labour Party (and her subsequent appointment as Shadow Minister for Public Health), Abbott made only occasional appearances, with her place usually being taken by a left-leaning guest panellist in rotation. Since returning to the backbenches in 2013, Abbott appears on a fortnightly basis, alternating with Labour MP Alan Johnson.

This Week came about after a major review of BBC political programmes, and replaced the nightly political review programme Despatch Box (1998–2002), for which Andrew Neil was the sole presenter in its later years, and which, in turn, was a replacement for The Midnight Hour (1994–1998).[2]

The show has a more light-hearted tone than most political programming and prides itself on being "punchy, irreverent, satirical".[3] This is aided by the fact that neither of the original regular panelists is constrained by party politics, as panellist Diane Abbott was noted for rebelling against the former Labour government and Portillo has left the House of Commons. The two were ostensibly an "odd couple" coming from different sides of the political spectrum; however, they have a long-standing friendship dating back to when both attended grammar school in Harrow, even appearing in a production of Macbeth together.[4] In September 2015 Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour party. Abbott is a long time close associate of Corbyn and nominated him for leader. Following Corbyn's win, she was promptly made Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, leading to an increase in her public prominence, and she has not been a regular panelist on This Week ever since.


The standard format consists of three segments each with a guest contributor. The first features a journalist or commentator who present their "Take Of The Week" in a short film before appearing in the studio to discuss their perspective further. The second segment is a light hearted roundup of the week in and around Parliament. Mark Mardell presented this before he became the BBC's Europe Editor in 2005. It is currently presented by one of a rotation of prominent writers and broadcasters. This is followed by a discussion between the hosts (often joined for this segment by Miranda Green) of the issues raised. The final segment is entitled the "Spotlight", often featuring a cultural topic and less focused on Parliament. During this segment there is a final guest related to the topic. Additionally, there is often a quiz in which Neil takes pleasure in demonstrating his co-hosts' ignorance of a range of topics.

The show was introduced in 2003 along with The Daily Politics to replace the nightly Despatch Box, after a change in sitting hours of Parliament.

The show achieved notoriety for its title sequence during the 2005 General Election, which spoofed the recently re-released version of "Is This the Way to Amarillo" and its video featuring comedian Peter Kay.[5]

In 2006, the programme won the Hansard Society Award for Opening Up Politics which was awarded at the Channel 4 Political Awards ceremony.[6]

During the general election campaign of 2010, This Week was broadcast on Monday nights in addition to its usual Thursday night slot, with contributors including Charles Kennedy, Sarah Teather, Lynne Featherstone, Caroline Flint and James Purnell.

Diane Abbott was absent from the show while she sought election as the Labour Party leadership. Her replacements as co-host included Hazel Blears and Caroline Flint.[7]

Recurring jokes

In keeping with its comic style, This Week has several recurring jokes and nicknames. These include assertions that all the viewers watch the show drinking Blue Nun, David Cameron watches the show in bed wearing his pyjamas, that the cast regularly go to Annabel's nightclub in Berkeley Square after filming is completed, with Charles Clarke providing the guests a minicab service even when he is not appearing on the show. It is also frequently sarcastically said that the show has a budget of almost zero. Also, every episode begins with the words "Evenin' all" and ends with "That's your lot for this week". Following Abbott's departure from the show, Neil would joke that Abbott's leadership bid and later appointment as Shadow Minister for Public Health were part of her "insatiable lust for power". In weeks where the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow (or his spouse), has featured in the news, the end credits are frequently shown over a scene of the diminutive Speaker being ceremonially escorted into the House of Commons to the music and lyrics of Jimmy Dean's Big Bad John.


Election song

During general elections, the show starts with the 'election song'. The 2005 election song was "Is this the way to Election Day?" (a spoof of "Is This the Way to Amarillo?" by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield),[8] and for the 2010 election the song was "We're Off to Find a PM" (a spoof of "We're Off to See the Wizard" by Harold Arlen).[9]


  1. "BBC News - This Week theme music". BBC News. 20 November 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Cozens, Claire; Deans, Jason (20 September 2002). "The BBC: A new manifesto for viewers". The Guardian. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "About This Week". BBC News. 4 September 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Andrew Neil". BBC News. 5 September 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. BBC News| 'Is This the Way to Election Day' Video
  6. "Opening Up Politics". BBC News. 11 April 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Greensland, Roy (4 June 2010). "Blears gets Andrew Neil show heave-ho after complaints from viewers". London: Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 4 June 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. (Is this the way to) Election Day? on YouTube
  9. We're off to Find a PM on YouTube

External links