After months of trailers and endless ‘SOME PERSONAL NEWS’ announcement on Twitters, GB News – already a bugbear of the left – has begun to take shape.
Andrew Neil’s 24-hour news channel launches on 13 June – and the new network has released a trailer or two, inviting prospective viewers to “meet the family”. By that, they mean all the presenters they’ve snatched from Sky and the BBC.
So, what’s on the schedule? “PC culture” is in the firing line, obviously. “Celebrating Great Britain” seems to be a priority, too. Basically, it feels like they’ve brought together a bunch of journalists desperate to slag off a weird kind of strawman version of the BBC that probably doesn’t really exists.
Anyway, media jobs and journalistic plurality are undoubtedly a good thing, so on we plough. The videos introduce us to the likes of Simon McCoy, Alastair Stewart and Colin Brazier – who join from the Beeb, ITV and Sky respectively – as well as younger voices like Mercy Muroki, who played a big part in the government’s Race Report – you know, the one which denied the existence of institutional racism.
“We want to mix it up – show all parts of the UK to all parts of the UK,” McCoy – best known for his apathetic coverage of the royals – enthuses. We’ll be “less obsessed with Westminster,” he claims – a promise that’s echoed by pretty much everyone who appears on camera.
There’s a lot of lip service paid to the “under-represented” (says ex-Labour MP Gloria del Piero) and those “who haven’t been listened to in a long time” (Stewart suggests). Who better to represent the interests of Britain’s left behind than Andrew Neil, currently festooned in a villa in the south of France, and a collection of legacy hacks?
Brazier warns that “free speech is being slowly eroded”. When will these presenters who have helmed primetime shows on national news networks finally be granted the platforms of which they have been so cruelly robbed?
Don’t worry, it’s going to be fun too. “News can feel pretty humourless, a wagging finger,” Brazier says. “I want it to be somewhere you can speak your mind without fear of censure”, he adds. What treats await us.
Neil – host of an 8pm show entitled Andrew Neil – tells us that GB News will be “reporting some of the good news about Britain”. Presumably he’ll need someone to courier that over to him on the Riviera. He needn’t worry – the whiff of TV historian Neil Oliver’s “intense feelings of love for the British archipelago” will likely carry across the Channel and beyond.
In its preview of the big launch, the Telegraph ponders whether “the sleepy world of British rolling news” is “ready for its Anarchy in the UK moment”. Steady on – it will surely be more Sevenoaks than Sex Pistols. The paper does acknowledge that there will be “plenty of ammo” for those wishing to write off GB News as “Alan Partridge does Fox News” – so that’s something to look forward to, at least.
Regardless, it’ll be worth tuning in on 13 June. It’s not as if there’s anything else decent on the box that day is there? Oh, what? It clashes with England’s opening match of the Euros? Shame. Couldn’t happen to a nicer network.