The PMQ Show
Perfectly Normal Productions for BBC Radio Five Live, 1 January 2009 (pilot)
Debating-type panel game described in a BBC press release thus: "A fast and furious topical panel show with guest contestants competing to be the Prime Minister by responding to issues of the day, as well as setting out their personal manifestos. However, if they fail to make the grade, the Speaker of the House, Parsons, will cut them off and move on."
Why this particular format was commissioned over the Any Other Business version of Fighting Talk is hard to fathom. Although Parsons does a decent impression of Michael Martin, and the panellists are well chosen and witty/controversial enough, nevertheless the whole thing is too similar to the better-known Five Live panel show. Instead of a bell, the proceedings are started by a knock of the gavel; similar sound effects are employed for good and bad political punditry.
The scores, if one could laughably call them that, are decided without any firm structure (unlike Fighting Talk) and just read out by Parsons at various intervals throughout the programme. They are supposedly decided by "Micra Man" (rather than Mondeo Man), which one presumes is the producer. However, the premise of the programme is that the panellists are trying to put forward the best, most popular policies - so, for once, it's a show that's possibly crying out for a phone vote. And yet the BBC are scared of running one.
Or, is it because the programme is pre-recorded? Very possibly, and it's to its detriment, sadly. Unlike the live feel one gets from FT, this programme is not terribly subtly edited and as such has a somewhat over-produced, sanitised feel to it.
It's not bad, but compared to Fighting Talk it's the Lib Dems of radio punditry.