Newsnight producers are currently facing fresh woe over rumoured plans at the BBC to extend the News at Ten slot so it would overlap with the current affairs programme. Should the proposals go ahead, staffers will need to work especially hard to pull in high-profile guests in order to convince viewers to turn over.
Alas Steerpike understands that they are unlikely to be getting the Prime Minister on the programme anytime soon, following an incident that occurred earlier this month which dampened relations between No.10 and Newsnight.
While organising the programme’s coverage of the Paris terrorist attacks, Ian Katz — the show’s editor — tasked a staffer with calling Don Cameron, the BBC scheduler, to ask him to organise an extra five minutes on the show for the Paris coverage.
When the producer dialled the number they had been given — and asked if they could have an extra five minutes for Paris — they were met with a baffled response. A man on the other end of the phone ummed and ahhed — in less polite terms — before telling the producer ‘whoever you think this is, it isn’t’ and terminating the call.
Shortly after the exchange Katz received an angry call of his own from No.10 who informed him that he was a security risk. Why? Well, he had just given the Prime Minister’s personal mobile number to a junior member of staff! The producer had unwittingly called David Cameron, rather than Don.
Exasperated staff were left red-faced over the blunder, pointing the blame firmly in the former Guardian deputy editor’s direction. Still, Mr S thinks they ought not be too hard on Katz — who was surprised to learn that he had Cameron’s number. After all, if the Prime Minister had agreed to five minutes on the terrorist attacks, it would surely have done wonders for the current affairs show’s viewing figures.