Sword carrier extraordinaire and leader of the Commons Penny Mordaunt took her turn yesterday. Harriet Harman, mother of the Commons is today. On Thursday, former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warms up the stage for her successor, Humza Yousaf, on Friday.

Their task? Sitting down with LBC presenter Iain Dale for 70 minutes of chat at the Edinburgh festival. Dale’s shows have become a fixture on the Fringe, with Mordaunt this year’s biggest seller so far.

That Dale’s events, and similar, should be so popular seems to contradict the notion that the long-form political interview has gone the way of the Norwegian Blue.

With perfect showbiz timing, The News Agents have been pondering the same. The hit podcast sees a pattern of politicians increasingly shunning interviews in favour of putting their own messages out on social media.

The episode opened with Jeremy Paxman interviewing Chloe Smith on Newsnight in 2011. The encounter between the presenter and Tory junior minister is seen as a classic of old school political interviewing. “Is this some kind of joke?” Paxman asks a flustered Smith. “You ever think you are incompetent?”

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At the time it was Smith who took the flak, but you wonder what Twitter/X would make of the encounter now. As Emily Maitlis told her fellow News Agent Lewis Goodall, the “shouting down” interview fell out of favour because the public got bored. It also felt “a bit ugly” and unfair.

The uncomfortable truth for the media is that politicians don’t need them as much as they once did. Maitlis has detected another trend –interviewees getting the upper hand. Not content to sit there passively, they will film the interview on their phone and send it to their followers. Elon Musk is a fan of the technique. “There is a weird kind of democracy about how we do interviews now,” says Maitlis.

The long-form interviewers of old, Brian Walden, Robin Day, David Frost, and more recently John Humphrys, never had to put up with their guests filming them. Nor were there news channels on which politicians interviewed each other. Today, if you don’t fancy taking on Laura Kuenssberg there is always the option of Nadine Dorries on TalkTV, as Boris Johnson and others have found.

Rob Burley, ex-BBC head of political programmes, now with Sky News, has written the best book on interviews, “Why is this Lying B****** Lying to Me?” The death of the political interview has been oft reported, he told Goodall, but this time it feels serious.

What about podcasts? Haven’t they replaced the half-hour or longer sit down? Different atmosphere, different purpose, says Burley. Podcasts are conversational, they are not there to first and foremost hold a politician to account.

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The turning point in the tussle between media and politicians is widely held to be the 2019 General Election, when Andrew Neil invited all the main party leaders to sit down for a live, long-form, one to one interview. Everyone turned up bar Boris Johnson, who said he would but never did. Neil was furious, and said so on air. It was the end of a “democratic norm”, says Burley. The accepted rule that politicians who wanted to lead the country would at the very least answer a few questions about their policies and themselves, had been broken.

Brian Walden, says Burley, thought the political interview could do a better job than parliament at holding a politician to account. To hear Walden interview Margaret Thatcher in 1989, just after Chancellor Nigel Lawson had resigned, is to understand why the former Labour MP was, and remains, the best of the best.

Back in Edinburgh, Dale sees his sessions as more podcasts than radio interviews. The conversational, get to know you style, yields its own results, he believes.

“Last year when I did Nicola Sturgeon I got criticised by a lot of people for a so-called soft interview," he told The Herald’s political correspondent Andrew Learmonth. “Well, I thought, what did you think I was going to do? Shout at her? Just be gratuitously rude? It's not like that. The whole idea of these shows is for people to see politicians in the hall and get to know them a bit better."

Ultimately, it is up to the public whether long-form interviewing survives. The market will decide, assuming people care enough one way or the other. Edinburgh suggests they are interested.

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The real test will be the next General Election. In Rishi Sunak we have a prime minister who is ill at ease in broadcast interviews, especially in Scotland where he has had tussles with STV’s Colin Mackay, and most recently the BBC’s Martin Geissler. Similarly, Labour leader Keir Starmer already seems to be running out of patience with interviewers.

For now, for politics interviews, and for good or ill, all roads lead to Edinburgh.