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BBC defends Nick Robinson’s Boris Johnson interview after listeners complain

BBC has responded following complaints about Nick Robinson’s interview (Picture: Rex)

The BBC has stood behind Nick Robinson’s interview with Boris Johnson after Today listeners complained about the tense chat.

During an interview at the recent Conservative party conference in Manchester the host told the Prime Minister to ‘stop talking’ as the pair spoke over one another – prompting a reported 558 complaints.

In a tense back and forth, Robinson and Mr Johnson repeatedly interrupted one another as the PM pushed to mention the government’s focus on British workers following Brexit.

As the interaction prompted a divided response from listeners, the broadcaster revealed it received complaints about Robinson’s interview.

In its response, it noted it wasn’t Robinson’s desire to ‘appear rude’ and that the host would have preferred to use ‘different language’ in speaking with Mr Johnson. It also maintained the interview covered a lot of ground.

A statement read: ‘In a live interview presenters have to judge how far to press for direct answers before moving the interview on.

Tory MP’s criticised the interview (Picture: Getty Images)

‘There was certainly no desire to appear rude and post broadcast, and on reflection, Nick Robinson himself would have preferred to have used different language.

‘Having said that, Nick Robinson covered a wide range of topics within a short space of time with the Prime Minister, who was able to set out his points on the issues raised.’

The interview saw Robinson attempt to steer Mr Johnson onto different topics, as he said: ‘Prime minister, you’ve made that point at length in a series of interviews up to this point.’

The PM replied: ‘Hang on, I haven’t had a chance this point on your show for two years – by your own account!’ to which the host insisted: ‘That was your choice not ours.’

As the politician continued on, mentioning the current shortages in supermarkets and battle to find petrol, Robinson said: ‘You have made that point very clearly.’

There was a lot of talking over one another, making it difficult to make sense of the conversation, before the spiky exchange culminated in Robinson interjecting: ‘Prime minister, you are going to pause – prime minister, stop talking.

‘We are going to have questions and answers, not where you merely talk, if you wouldn’t mind.’

After Mr Johnson mentioned he wanted ‘to get back to the point I was trying to make before you told me to stop talking’ Robinson later said: ‘Of course we want to hear you talk, but we want to hear you talk on a range of subjects not just one.’

Really bringing home the awkward exchange, Robinson thanked Mr Johnson for talking to the programme and ‘allowing the occasional question as well’.

The prime minister replied: ‘It’s very kind of you to let me talk! Very kind, very kind.

‘That’s the point of having me on your show. Anyway, lovely to see you.’

While many listeners praised Robinson for the interview, with one writing on Twitter: ‘Johnson finally put in his place, he needs to answer the questions not just spout whatever he wants hoping to run out of time’, others felt it was ‘rude’ to interrupt the politician.

Tory MPs condemned the chat, with John Redwood, MP for Wokingham, saying: ‘When the PM had a good answer to a question, the BBC Today programme tried to stop him, asking a different question. BBC interviewers should allow an answer and pretend to be interested in the person they are interviewing. They seem to want to impose their view instead.’


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