Every Monday night on the LBC we Cuban panel to discuss what we think is going to be one of the biggest issues of the week. Sometimes we have panels that no one has ever heard of. Sometimes we deliberately invite young people. On Friday, my producer, Sophie and I, agreed that Brexit is expected to take over the week. A few hours later she repeated that she had invited Andrew Adonis and Ian Dent, and who I would like to balance from Brixet's side. I offered Susan Evans and Kate Hoi. They were both free, so done. I knew it would be a pasty panel and be hard to control, so it proved!
Controlling a fourth argument is always a challenge for any presenter. I always ask the panelists before they go in the air not to talk at the same time or talk about each other because listeners find it hard to understand who is talking and what they are saying. To be honest, I can also keep my breath because it goes one ear out the other.
There is always a delicate balance between intervention to restore order and allow for freeflow discussion. I usually go wrong at the last, but of course it risks being accused of being a useless chairman.I tend to think that the audience is quite smart in identifying who they are.In the end, it's not about the presenter, it's about the participants and the audience.
Of course, the second challenge in creating such a discussion, where you have a 2-2 balance of Remainers and Brexiteers, is to try to stay yourself impartial. People knew my views of Brixt, and there were times when I wanted to go in when I felt that Kate or Susan did not give the full answers, but I objected. I think I kept them in mind just as I did the "rabbis" on the blackboard.
Yes, sometimes it was like a cat shepherd, and I had to stop the interruption, but all in all I think it was a very amusing hour of radio. Did the discussion change their mind? Probably not, but we're almost beyond this point now.