It was good to watch last night's 'This Week' since I'd been mildly annoyed at the BBC on Wednesday. Their Budget coverage was in all respects a typical 'Daily Politics' except they'd dropped Andrew Neil in favour of Hugh Edwards and I never really understand the point of Hugh Edwards.
Somebody inside the BBC clearly believes that Hugh is the new David, the old David (or previous Hugh) being David Dimbleby. It's not that I hold any particular grudge against Hugh but he doesn't have that devilish edge which elevates him above the mere average. His chief quality is an asymmetry which he does well but I've never really cared (literally) one way or the other about asymmetry. Nor have I ever been much of a fan of an Elvis lip. Hugh definitely has an Elvis lip, which he usually combines with his asymmetry to produce the Hugh Edwards effect, which makes women swoon and men wish they could swoon.
Perhaps the BBC think Andrew Neil lacks the glamour to front a national event and they replaced him with Hugh in order to satisfy their occasional viewers. News compulsives would be watching irrespective of the host but Hugh Edwards would calm the minds of those who occasionally dip their toes into politics, perhaps to see if a few pence would be knocked off the price of beer. An asymmetrical Elvis lip will always calm that kind of fear.
Hugh is also a safe pair of hands. His hands, I suspect, are as unlike Jeremy Clarkson's hands as you could possibly go without adding extra digits. I also think the BBC like Hugh because he's Welsh. I know that doesn't sound like a reason to hire a man but I suspect the BBC find ways to fulfil their regional quota without going the full dialect. Hugh is a bit Welsh but the kind of Welsh that doesn't have hair on his knuckles or become too impassioned if you speak English west of the Wrexham. The Welsh are a proud and sometimes fierce nation. I don't live all that far from the Welsh border and I know that their language dominates our public transport as far as Manchester (or 'Manceinion' as our local trains announce it) and beyond. Perhaps it's that proud sense of nationhood that the BBC fear. Hugh is Welsh enough to count without disturbing the marmalade brigade in Hertfordshire.
But, I digress. 'This Week' wasn't as feisty as last week's episode but probably a more solid show. The standout performances were by Nihal Arthanayake from the BBC Asian Network and the always wonderful Anne McElvoy. Abbot and Portillo were good but they're always good. I'm never quite sure where Portillo would sit on the Conservative spectrum but I more often than not find myself agreeing with him. Perhaps that's why he's no longer an MP. He's not ideological enough and has broadened his mind to the pleasures of common sense.
As is also usual with 'This Week', I usually zone out during the final ten minutes, which was this week dominated by another comedian with nothing particularly interesting to say and even less to say that was funny. I suspect it's just me but I've had other 'This Week' fans assure me that it's not. They need to think of a new format for the last ten minutes. I might have to give it some thought and summarise it in a letter... Perhaps Andrew Neil should consider more asymmetry and getting himself one of those Elvis lips.