UK

BBC's This Week to end as host Andrew Neil steps down

Andrew Neil
Image caption This Week - hosted by former Sunday Times editor and broadcaster Andrew Neil - began in 2003

The BBC's late-night political show This Week is to end, after presenter Andrew Neil decided to step down.

This Week - which airs on BBC One on Thursdays - will not be recommissioned after its current run finishes in July.

The programme began in 2003 and has been mostly hosted by Mr Neil. Regular panellists have included Labour's Diane Abbott and Michael Portillo.

"We couldn't imagine This Week without the inimitable Andrew Neil," said the BBC's Director of News Fran Unsworth.

She called Mr Neil "one of Britain's best political interviewers" and said he was "bowing out of late-night presenting on the show, at the top of his game".

Ms Unsworth added: "We want to keep Andrew at the heart of the BBC's political coverage.

"He continues to present Politics Live on Thursdays and we look forward to developing future projects with him."

The programme's format sees the panel welcome political and celebrity guests to discuss the biggest news stories of the week.

Former Conservative MP and defence secretary Mr Portillo is a regular panellist on the show and appeared alongside Labour's shadow home secretary, Ms Abbott, until 2010. The pair were known for getting on well on-screen and were described as a "perfect combination" by Mr Neil.

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Media captionMr and Mrs quiz with Diane Abbott and Michael Portillo

The light-hearted show also welcomes guests from outside the Westminster bubble - with past guests including the Cheeky Girls and Nile Rodgers - as well as occasional appearances from Mr Neil's dog, Molly.

After it was announced that This Week would be ending, fans of the programme criticised the decision. Journalist and columnist for the Telegraph, Liam Halligan, called it a "blindingly obvious mistake", while Sky's political correspondent Kate McCann said it was a "real shame".

"BBC This Week is a brilliant show and somehow manages to get people with opposing views to talk normally to each other and tease issues out," she tweeted. "Plus it was such good fun to be on as a guest and has one of the loveliest teams behind the scenes!"

The BBC has not yet announced what will fill the late-night slot, but said it will be announced in due course.

It comes after the BBC also announced it would be shortening the News at Ten, finishing the national and regional bulletin 10 minutes earlier at 22:35, from 4 March.

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