Joe Lycett: BBC said they wanted show to go in 'different direction'

Joe Lycett: BBC said they wanted show to go in 'different direction'

Joe Lycett says BBC editors and Laura Kuenssberg told him before his appearance on new flagship politics show that they wanted ‘to go in a different direction’ and air ‘different viewpoints’ as corporation comes under fire for booking him

  • Joe Lycett said BBC editors told him they want ‘different viewpoints’ on show
  • He said: ‘I spoke to Laura and her team beforehand and they said they wanted to go in a slightly different direction’
  • Comedian sparked backlash for appearing to mock Liz Truss while on panel

Joe Lycett revealed today that Laura Kuenssberg and her team told him that they wanted ‘to go in a slightly different direction’ before he appeared on her new flagship politics show and mocked Liz Truss.

The comedian said that he was informed by the presenter and her editors that they were keen on airing ‘different viewpoints’ before he sarcastically applauded and cheered the PM hopeful during the the live programme.

When quizzed today on his behaviour, he told Times Radio how he doesn’t think the BBC will be ‘upset’ with him because of what they had told him before his guest appearance.

It comes as the BBC faces a backlash for booking the comic, with the corporation facing claims that the flagship Sunday show is being ‘dumbed down.’

Speaking to Matt Chorley today, Lycett defended his appearance, during which he said he was ‘incredibly right-wing’, saying : ‘I genuinely don’t think they’re upset about it.

‘I spoke to Laura and her team beforehand and they said they wanted to go in a slightly different direction.

‘They wanted to try and make it sort of bring it out to different viewpoints.’

Joe Lycett (pictured) on Times Radio on Monday morning where he defended the comments he made on the BBC’s flagship political programme Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg

Doubling down on the comments he made yesterday, Lycett continued: ‘I suppose they maybe didn’t realise that I’m really right-wing now that I think maybe they thought I was left-wing.

‘I have you know, I have changed my viewpoints over the years.

‘But so has Liz Truss, you know, she was a Lib Dem now she’s a Tory, she was Remainer, now she’s a Brexiteer.

‘People change their minds.

‘And you’ve got to keep up with that.

‘So yeah, I think that I think they maybe were slightly surprised that I’m incredibly right wing now. But it happens, doesn’t it?

‘Somebody said you get eight per cent more right-wing with every year you get old. So I think I just leapfrogged it?’

Lycett also told the presenter that following the interview, Liz Truss ‘got up quicker than she’d been told to’.

He continued: ‘Apparently she got up quicker than she’d been told to.

‘My BBC source said that she had – and this is a direct quote, “a face like a slapped a***.”

‘So I don’t know whether, I didn’t know what that means.

‘But I’d be very sad if I’d made Liz Truss sad in any way because she is my favourite politician.

‘And I’m thrilled that she’s going to be the prime minister.’

Joe Lycett said: ‘She was very clear in what she said. I think you know exactly what’s going to happen. I’m reassured, you’re reassured, are you reassured?’

Joe Lycett (pictured) outside the BBC in central London yesterday after his appearance on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg 

Laura Kuenssberg was joined by former deputy chief of staff to Boris Johnson Cleo Watson, Joe Lycett and Labour frontbencher Emily Thornberry (left to right)

Lycett also repeated that he thought her plans were ‘very clear’.

‘We all know what she’s going to do. And we all liked the plan. We’re all on board with it. And we all feel that it’s been well thought out,’ he added. 

The BBC and Laura Kuenssberg have faced criticism for booking a comedian to mock Liz Truss just days before she is expected to become the next Prime Minister.  

Ms Truss used the opportunity on Kuenssberg’s first Sunday show to promise ‘immediate’ action to help Britons with energy costs if she is confirmed as Tory leader.

But her interview was followed by sarcastic applause from Lycett who then claimed to be ‘very right wing’ despite his frequent criticism of the Tory party and the Government.

Even SNP MP Pete Wishart quipped that the BBC should ‘maybe rethink the ”comedian” spot’

Lycett was flanked by Labour frontbencher Emily Thornberry and former Downing Street aide Cleo Watson.

Miss Thornberry was said by Miss Kuenssberg to be ‘smirking in the corner’ at the comedian’s behaviour.

Lycett had telegraphed his feelings on Twitter the previous night, saying he was ‘really excited to be on this new version of Would I Lie To You’.

The BBC’s decision to invite him on to the first episode of the important new show, sparked consternation and bemusement last night.

What did Joe Lycett say? 

Throughout Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg on the BBC, Joe Lycett amused viewers by maintaining deadpan support for Liz Truss and the Tory party. But what did he say?

On the leadership contest

‘It’s been a great use of resources, a great use of our media, to have infighting in the Tory party while there’s a huge cost of living crisis coming.’ 

On Janet Daly’s claim Liz Truss is ‘stronger than you think’

‘Fair play, Janet. I think the haters will say that we’ve had 12 years of the Tories and we’re sort of at the dregs of what they’ve got available and that Liz Truss is sort of the backwash of Conservative MPs.

‘I wouldn’t say that because ‘m incredibly right-wing, but some people might say that.’

 On Liz Truss and energy bills:

‘I loved it.

‘You said earlier than I’m not left or right or right wing. I’m actually very right wing, and I loved it. I thought she was very clear, she gave great clear answers. 

‘I know exactly what she’s up to, and I think most people watching at home worrying about their bills will feel [reassured]…’. 

‘She was very clear in what she said. I think you know exactly what’s going to happen. I’m reassured, you’re reassured, are you reassured?’ 

‘I liked what she had to say about let’s not predict and let’s just see what happens, I think she did the right thing there.’

On plans to ease the cost of living crisis:

 ‘I would like to see some sort of plan, something concrete, we need help now.

‘Why not now? Oh, I’ve slipped into left-wing.’ 

A senior Tory party source said: ‘That’s supposed to be a serious political programme. I think it made Laura Kuenssberg look stupid … I think it is absurd.

‘How could that possibly be the right thing for the BBC to do. If I was the BBC I would issue an apology and say we got it wrong, we made a mistake and we will go back to being a serious political programme.’

Rob Burley, a former BBC editor of live political programmes, said: ‘Memo: Don’t put comedians on Question Time or any other serious political show. It’s not the time for that nonsense any more.’ BBC director-general Tim Davie is set to be grilled over the slurs when he faces the Commons culture committee this week.

Yesterday’s Mail on Sunday told how Have I Got News For You dedicated its entire half hour on Friday to belittling the outgoing PM, including the use of the c-word.

Tory backbencher Lee Anderson, who last year said he ripped up his TV licence in protest at the BBC’s Princess Diana scandal, said: ‘Leopards do not change their spots, and it would appear that now the BBC can no longer use public money to attack Boris they have now turned their sights on to Liz Truss.’

Former minister Sir John Hayes said: ‘I’ve been a reluctant advocate of defunding the BBC, hoping it would return to what it was, but it seems those days are gone. It is so nakedly biased now.’

However Lycett drew praise on Twitter, including from fellow comic Nish Kumar, writer Jay Rayner and Labour MP Jess Phillips.

Senior sources at the BBC’s news division defended the new show saying the programme needed ‘levity’ and there would be ‘people of all views over time’.

They added: ‘It’s important that impartiality isn’t seen as balance in one show. That’s not the objective now and never was. You show me a launch programme that gets every tiny detail right on day one.’

It comes as Liz Truss has vowed to unveil a £100billion cost of living plan which could include including freezing energy bills for millions of homes — if she becomes Tory leader.

The Foreign Secretary, who is widely expected to be announced as the new Tory leader this afternoon, promised to unveil a plan to help millions of families with soaring energy bills in her first week as prime minister.

It is understood the mammoth package of support could be worth more than £100 billion – putting it on the same scale as the Covid furlough scheme.

Among the options being considered is a freeze on energy bills for both families and businesses.

Miss Truss last night pledged ‘rapid action’ to get households through the winter and tackle the ‘root cause’ of the crisis.

‘I have a bold plan to see Britain through difficult times and get us out the other side stronger,’ she told the Daily Mail. ‘If I am elected prime minister, I will work tirelessly to deliver for the people of Britain.’

Liz Truss was interviewed by Laura Kuenssberg but refused to be drawn on what measures she will introduce to keep cost of living prices down

Miss Truss yesterday promised to act ‘immediately’ to tackle the energy crisis, but would not offer any details of the support struggling households can expect.

The Foreign Secretary, who denied she was being ‘coy’, said she wanted to reassure voters that help is coming but indicated they would need to wait for a few days to find out exactly what the support might look like.

In an interview with the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme, Miss Truss said: ‘I will act if I’m elected as prime minister. I will act immediately on bills and on energy supply because I think those two things go hand in hand.’

Miss Truss appeared to brush off dire warnings about the future as she insisted the country had ‘been through worse’.

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