THERE was one word the host of Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg tried hard to avoid yesterday – “extraordinary”. Like unprecedented and unparalleled, the “e-word”, as applied to the year’s events, deserves a rest.

She almost made it, only for the word to sneak into the closing monologue anyway. How else to describe a year of three Prime Ministers, the death of a monarch, war in Ukraine, and much else?

The Commons and the Scottish Parliament are heading into recess this week, taking the Sunday politics shows with them. Not everyone was ready to switch on the out of office reply just yet, though.

After a week of strikes and more on the way, it fell to Oliver Dowden, as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, to tour the studios for the UK Government.

The Prime Minister had already set the tone with a piece in the Sun on Sunday insisting he would not give in on public sector pay.

Mr Dowden repeated the oft-cited Government claim that settling the various disputes on union terms would cost £28 billion, or £1000 for every household. Kuenssberg wanted to know how the figure had been worked out. So began a basic arithmetic test which Mr Dowden was determined not to fail.

At one point he said the Government may even by “underestimating” the cost of an across the board settlement.

“What I can tell you is our number is justified on the basis of taking the inflation number, which is what the unions are asking for, and projecting it forward to next year,” he said.

He denied the figure was inaccurate, adding: “I spent a lot of yesterday and the day before discussing exactly these numbers. These are robust numbers.”

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On Times Radio he said it would not be “responsible” to bow to “aggressive action from strike leaders”.

“People across the private sector are getting about 4%,” he said.

“Why should it be the case that some unions are able to push their claims ahead of others?

“That’s why we have this independent process and why we’re determined to stick with it. So we’ll be reasonable with this, but people need to appreciate we will also be resolute.”

It was Kuenssberg’s last programme of the year before the show returns on January 8. In the best traditions of the football season it seems the right moment for a half-time review.

The September launch proved memorable for all the wrong reasons when the comedian, Joe Lycett, pranked the show live on air by pretending to be a fan of Liz Truss. Much embarrassment ensued. To give the programme its due, it included the Lycett fiasco in its own mini review of the year.

The show recovered and set about fulfilling the primary mission of any Sunday programme – get headlines on the day and fill Monday’s papers. Kuenssberg’s questioning has been tough but fair. Although perhaps not as combative as her predecessor, Andrew Marr, she is persistent. There have been no major tussles yet but give it time: Marr had the job for 16 years; his successor has yet to reach six months.

In the meantime, the show has had some remarkable moments, including an interview with Nicola Sturgeon in which Scotland’s First Minister said she detested the Tories and everything they stood for.

There was more drama when Michael Gove tore into Liz Truss’s tax plans. Both were in the studio (Gove on the panel) and the intervention kicked off a nightmare week for the Government at its party conference in Birmingham.

The interview with Ms Sturgeon aside, the show has been light on Scottish coverage, inevitable perhaps given BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show airs immediately after.

The BBC Scotland show is sticking with its two for one format, with the first half hour on television and the rest radio. It is still a guddle, neither one thing nor the other.

The television show deserves an hour, which would leave time for more interviews with UK Government Ministers instead of relying on what has just been said on Kuenssberg’s show.

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Filmed reports appear to have gone from the Scottish programme, and there is no time for arts, international stories or much else.

Yesterday’s show had a rare treat in having the main interviewee, John Swinney, live and in the studio. It makes all the difference: the chat flows quicker, is not as stilted, and there is less chance of gremlins striking.

If Santa could grant one wish for the news viewer it would be fewer interviews via laptop and more in-person. It has been fun of a sort seeing the various Ministers’ spare rooms, but as with the word “extraordinary”, enough’s enough.