BBC BLOGS - The Editors

PM's Andrew Lansley Week

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Joanna Carr Joanna Carr | 08:13 UK time, Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Andrew Lansley Week. I think even the health secretary himself would agree that it's not the most obvious crowd-pleaser, but that's what we on PM are about to embark on.

Andrew Lansley


We've invited the health secretary for England to join us live every day this week on PM to discuss his proposed changes to the NHS in England. The scale of the changes being proposed is disputed - the government stresses evolution, others see revolution - but let's take our cue from the prime minister, who told the Today programme that it was "quite a fundamental change". 80% of the NHS budget will be controlled by GPs. Every hospital to become a foundation trust. No more Primary Care Trusts or Strategic Health Authorities. All patients to have the choice of "any willing provider". And those are just the headlines.

The more I thought about all this, the more it became apparent to me that this subject couldn't be covered in any depth with a typical six-minute interview, or even a 10-minute one. And so I came up with the idea of a series of interviews, stripped across the week, each one tackling a different aspect of the reform, and Mr Lansley agreed.

On Monday, it was the role of GPs. Tuesday, it's patient experience. Wednesday, cost and the role of competition. Thursday, holding the NHS to account. Each one will be preceded by a short explainer piece from our health correspondent, Jane Dreaper. And on Friday, we'll put questions raised by the PM audience to Mr Lansley.

Some might say it's too much time to give to one politician of one party. But this interview series will mark the publication of the bill. Doubtless the debate will evolve, and we will return to it in other ways later in its Parliamentary passage.

We will represent other perspectives during the interview series, but I make no apologies for keeping the focus on Eddie's interviews with the man responsible for the reforms. And judging from the size of the postbag already, there's plenty of substance for 5 serious interviews.

Perhaps this could launch a whole new genre of interview... Ed Balls Month? Sarah Teather Summer? The Year of Oliver Letwin?

Joanna Carr is editor, PM, iPM and Broadcasting House.

Upshares Downshares

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Joanna Carr Joanna Carr | 10:58 UK time, Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Last November, we at the PM programme felt that we needed a daily slot to reflect the progress of the recession. Step forward Nils Blythe, who appeared after the 1730 headlines to address all aspects of the economic crisis. We asked the listeners to name the slot, and David Cartwight came up with the name "Upshares, Downshares".

Read more and comment at the PM Blog

Audio and images at PM

PM's Speakers Week

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Joanna Carr Joanna Carr | 17:18 UK time, Monday, 22 June 2009

Order! Order!

Today marks the climax of PM's Speaker Week. Each day last week, we heard manifestos for restoring trust between governed and governors and then on Friday, our four alternative Speaker candidates debated live with each other.

The PM programme logoPM listeners, and those who comment on the blog, are never shy in letting us know what they think, so here goes an attempt to answer some of the most frequently-asked questions.

(1) Why do an alternative Speaker competition at all? Why not just hear from the actual candidates for the actual post?

"Yes, and" (as the managers say). We did cover the Hansard Society hustings quite extensively on Monday's PM, hearing from each of the candidates. This has been the only public forum so far - there'll more coverage of today's hustings in the House tonight.

But given that MPs defenestrated Michael Martin as part of their response to the crisis of trust arising from the expenses scandal, we thought that there was more than enough room to hear from people in public life with ideas about how to change things.

(2) Why did you choose the candidates you did?

My original brief to our excellent producer, Manveen, was simply to find people who make you want to turn the radio up when they start speaking. I'm sure with that in mind, almost everyone will disagree with our selection for at least one of our four Speakers.

We approached all kinds of figures across a range of areas: in particular, we tried to persuade some prominent business types to take part, without success.

In the end, I was very pleased with our line up: Tim Collins, AL Kennedy, Greg Dyke and Lord Carey.

Surely the ideas of an inspirational army colonel, a prize-winning novelist, a former DG of the BBC and a former Archbishop of Canterbury are of interest to anyone thinking about trust in the institutions of the nation?

(3) What came out of it?

I think it was inevitable that we had a quart-into-pint-pot difficulty, and I wish that we'd had even more time to continue the debate on Friday's show.

But over the week, we devoted 45 minutes to a debate which dealt with Lords reform, the kind of people who become MPs, what happens to them when they make it to Parliament, how to keep MPs in touch with the concerns of their constituents, parliamentary reform and whether it's the answer to the expenses question - and much else besides.

(4) Why did we need a phone vote?

We were very keen to gauge to what degree our candidates were finding favour with the audience, and we thought an independently-verified phone vote was the most robust and straightforward way to do this.

Several correspondents to the PM blog asked whether we (the BBC) were making any money from the competition: the short answer is "no". The competition (now closed) was conducted in accordance with the BBC's guidance on competitions.

In short: undoubtedly not a perfect exercise, but hopefully an enjoyable and thought-provoking one. How it compares to the debate in SW1, we'll have to see...

Joanna Carr is editor, PM, iPM and Broadcasting House.

iPM: Your News

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Joanna Carr Joanna Carr | 10:38 UK time, Friday, 20 March 2009

Maybe it's reckless to say so on this particular blog, but we at iPM - the programme that starts with its listeners - are hereby laying claim to a genuine, bona fide, no-money-back-guarantee first. This Saturday, iPM will broadcast a news bulletin made up entirely of your news. Not just your responses to our news, but actual BBC news based on you. Yes, you.

Each week, we ask listeners to send us a sentence of what's going on in their lives, and the results are alarming, enlightening, funny, and startling. Such as these:

I couldn't face seeing my mother, who has Alzheimer's disease, because I was scared.

My neighbour popped round yesterday to tell me he'd lost his three-and-a-half foot long, black and white snake, he thinks it escaped through the letterbox.

Near Milton Keynes I met Dr Johnson and David Garrick, who were walking to London; together we admired a shopping trolley in the canal.

iPMAnd, as so often at PM, we don't know when to stop. iPM always starts with its listeners, but this week the whole show is based on stories from the audience, investigated with the help of the Corporation's finest journalists. It will tackle everything from Spitfires and that missing snake, to ASBOs and Michael Palin in 3D. Your news, told by the BBC allstars.

It's an experiment that we hope to learn a lot from, and we're keen to know what you make of it - so let us know!

New news. Who knew?

iPM is on Radio 4 on Saturdays at 0545, BBC iPlayer and the iPM podcast.

Joanna Carr is editor, PM, iPM and Broadcasting House.

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