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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 September 2005, 08:43 GMT 09:43 UK
Sunday mornings given a new look
Andrew Marr with Gordon Brown
Chancellor Gordon Brown was a high-profile guest for the first show
The first edition of Sunday AM, hosted by former BBC political editor Andrew Marr, was screened at the weekend.

Programme editor Barney Jones reflects on how it went, and hints at what can be expected in the coming weeks.

Q: Apart from the presenter, what's new about the programme compared with its predecessor Breakfast with Frost?

Over 11 years Breakfast with Frost established a loyal following and a regular audience of around one and a half million each Sunday morning.

BBC News bosses wanted to build on that success - so it is a new show with a new presenter, new set, new titles and slightly different format, but many of the ingredients that made up the old show will appear in the new Sunday morning offering.

As the TV critic of the Times wrote after the first programme: "There is really not much you can, or need, do to reinvent the wheel of the Sunday morning current affairs show."

Q: What's different about the programme's approach and remit?

What Joe Joseph went on to say in the Times was: "What Marr brings to this reliable recipe is enthusiasm which he exudes like a geyser and an ability to be interested in a variety of subjects."

That is precisely what we hoped for when designing the new show and I'm delighted that that's how it's been greeted.

We planned to make the new programme slightly more pacey - to exploit the dynamism and energy of our new presenter and build on that.

Andrew Marr had fans from across all age groups following his five-year stint standing outside 10 Downing Street explaining the twists and turns of British politics with verve and vigour.

In his weekly radio show Start the Week and various cameo appearances on BBC TV programmes, Andrew Marr has demonstrated his infectious enthusiasm for the arts in general and books in particular - and again we hope to build on that.

Andrew Marr has been broadcasting regularly for less than 10 years, whereas David Frost had been at it for more than 40.

We will necessarily be reaching out to a younger audience - while hoping to hang onto as many as possible of those who appreciated and enjoyed what was previously on offer every Sunday morning.

Q: How did the first show go?

Lots of small errors and we haven't got the set quite right yet, but overall I was delighted.

Bringing a new venture to air has many pitfalls - most of which we managed to avoid.

I was pleased with our mix of guests. Having the second most powerful politician in Britain - and the bookies' favourite to be prime minister within the next three years - live in the studio sent out the message, I hope, that we expect the top figures to be appearing.

Kevin Spacey was very engaging, and getting the former prime minister to report from the Oval was the sort of quirky touch that I would hope to continue in the months ahead.

Most importantly, Andrew Marr's performance - his easy confidence in the way he talks to his guests - was just what I was hoping for.

Q: Were there any surprises?

We were slightly caught out by Kevin Spacey staying on at the end of the programme.

Kevin Spacey and Gordon Brown
The programme mixed the arts with politics

We were initially told that he'd have to leave straight after his interview but he enjoyed it so much he said he'd stay.

It meant every one was a little crushed with four people and a guitar all perched on one sofa. It also meant we had to change camera angles and Andrew was left not quite knowing where to look!

But these are the kind of minor issues that we expect to deal with most weeks and ultimately we were delighted that Kevin Spacey was able to stay and trade notions of Britishness with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Q: What's in the pipeline for future shows?

No Sunday is ever the same but we hope that every single week there will be someone and something interesting.

We hope to bring our viewers the big names from politics, the arts and current topics in the news.

We hope to go on entertaining as well as informing our viewers, and include a few surprises and a bit of humour.




SEE ALSO
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