That’ll be twelve pounds fifty please …

BBC Hearts and MindsAfter years of providing material for Thursday night and Friday morning posts on Slugger, BBC NI’s Hearts and Minds aired last night for the last time. [Ed – Not quite the last: it has one last swansong on BBC Parliament at 4pm on Sunday afternoon]

While waiting for Sinn Fein’s Ard Comhairle to shake hands on the Ts and Cs of Martin McGuinness protocol for meeting the Queen, there’s just enough time to watch the last episode on iPlayer.

Classic stuff: irritable politicians, robust debate, and the non-appearance of Sinn Fein. And that was only the studio debate. There’s more of the same in the extended montage looking back over the years, as well as Ian Knox’s cartoons, some great banter between Noel and his political guests, and a pond full of carp [Ed – checked that spelling twice] in Peter Robinson’s garden. But we never did get to find out how Noel kept his inflation-busting taxi fare stuck to £12.50 over such a long period.

Best wishes to Mary Kelly, Julia Paul, Noel Thompson and many others behind the scenes as they move on to other programmes. In the ever-changing belt-tightening world of the BBC, Hearts and Minds has set a high standard for its replacement to live up to.

Updated with the montage …

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  • Mick Fealty

    More to follow…

  • I’m hoping you’re ripping the montage … you missed a good ‘wake’ last night.

  • London_Irish

    I will be mightily disappointed if Nolan reappears on the TV next year whilst H&M bites the bullet. BBC NI have really dropped the ball with this decision, I think.

  • London Irish – The official line is that the H&M slot will be replaced with a programme with similar objectives, but produced by the same team behind Stormont Today and Sunday Politics. Mark Carruthers has been named in the local media as the presenter.

  • Mick Fealty

    Well, Nolan’s not taking all the money, that’s for sure. And there’s plans for an extension of the politics unit output…

    But to be blunt, I see this as a weak move by the Beeb. Much as I like Mark personally, he doesn’t really put the fear god into his interviewees.

    I’d expect the complaints from the hill to subside somewhat… and may that’s good thing, but Julia has proven skills in policy analysis and there is no one I know of in the front of house team who can replace her.

    Maybe there is a gap in the market?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Mick, in some ways I think it is probably good to call it a day for H&M, it is a victim of its own success in that its identity and format were extremely strong, from the music, confrontational interviews, and cartoon, to the legendery £12:50. Too strong to be adapted, I don’t think you could have changed its format easily, however its not just the cost of Taxis that has changed.

    It is very much the “Peace Process” for anoraks, there should be a continuous loop of the shows playing in the Linen Hall Library, I think we have left that stage behind, maybe Marty and Her Maj is a good symbol of the end of that story. Whats important now is what replaces it, my hopes aren’t high, I think they should get Newton to produce it!

  • Mick Fealty

    Adapted to what though?

  • mary kelly

    Cheers Mick for the kind words and also thanks to all those on Slugger who’ve posted comments about the programme over the years. I read them all – good and bad – every Friday morning and I always appreciated getting the views of people who are genuinely interested in politics. Our last panel of politicians watched the rest of the programme in the make-up room afterwards and they laughed their heads off at the archive montage. Hearts and Minds was a big part of my life and it was great working with such a team of talented people like Noel Thompson, Julia Paul, Tim McGarry and of course our genius cartoonist, Ian Knox. It’s been a blast. Thanks guys.

  • Drumlins Rock

    modern times, the £12:50 isn’t the only dated element, forget the politics, the studio, music, imagery etc. have all reached a sell by date, a more modern format and imagery is rrquired but would be so diverse it would be unfair to retain the title just for the sake of it.

    Include the politics and a new era deserves a new programme, possibly in some way following the assembly committees? for example Nolan is the only journalist so far to question the RPA proposals, taking on the whole NIW issue etc.

  • aquifer

    Programmes like this helped keep the Peace Process moving along, but they were almost not funded.

    Terrifying that it was easier to shoot your way onto the box.

    Who can make policymaking interesting?

    What are the Scots up to?

  • dwatch

    Sad to see H & M’s go. I hope the next political progamme they run in its place will have more satire in it.

  • andnowwhat

    I’d love to see something like “The Show ” come back with a mix of serious politics and QUALITY satire.

    I could envisage someone hosting the anorak section whilst someone ouside of the loop but cynical, such as Gerry Anderson, could link on the satire.

    In the unlikely event that the BBC use my idea, that’ll be £12.50

  • It will be sorely missed. A real loss to political journalism in NI. Not convinced about proposed replacement at all.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Chris, what is the proposed replacement? are there many details out yet?

  • It had become tired in format.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Sad to see H&M leave the screen. Noel Thompson was a rare breed in Ulster tv because you could never really tell one way or the other what way he personally felt about an issue. His professionalism was exemplary.

    Indeed when I recall Mike Nesbitt during his UTV days interviewing Sinn Fein people in particular and his personal bias coming though, it made one respect Thompson’s skill all the more. He dealt with the politicians of both tribes with the same innate disdain!