Last night's debate on Newsnight between the London mayoral candidates was crammed into about 30 minutes, rather than taking up the full length of the programme, as it probably should have done. The candidates would have had more time to get their points across and might have felt slightly less need to talk across each other constantly. It was a similar problem when Newsnight held a debate between Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne in the Lib Dem leadership election.
I suspect the reason for that was due to the existence of Newsnight Scotland, the 20-minute opt out to which us viewers in Scotland are treated four nights a week (not Fridays, as apparently nothing ever happens in Scotland on a Friday so we get Newsnight Review like the rest of you.)
Last night's edition was truly appalling. Following on from the mayoral debate, there was a tedious discussion about whether Scotland would benefit from having elected mayors. This featured Labour MSP Charlie Gordon, Edinburgh Labour councillor Ewan Aitken and someone else, whose name I didn't catch, but who I'd be very surprised if he wasn't a Labour supporter. Political balance, what political balance?
This wasn't something exceptional for the programme. I very rarely watch it nowadays as it doesn't often manage to produce much that's of any interest to anyone. There's usually about three items squashed into each 20-minute edition, quite often meaning that things aren't dealt with in the depth they should be, while studio discussions are rarely given enough time.
I think it's about time that BBC Scotland recognised that Newsnight Scotland isn't really working as it should. The programme needs to be scrapped and replaced with an entirely separate news and discussion programme, probably 30 minutes long and maybe running immediately after the 10 o'clock news on BBC1. That way Scotland would still have its own dedicated nightly current affairs programme, while Newsnight would be more capable of doing specials for its whole length if it so chose.
Oh, and while they're at it, maybe BBC Scotland could get rid of Gordon Brewer as well, who must be one of the most annoying presenters around.
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