An interview is not over till it is over. Wise words for any politician to remember when next they are faced with a series of “quickfire” questions.

It sounds so harmless, doesn’t it? Just a bit of fun, add some layers to a person. But get it wrong and the mistake can dog you for years. Ask Theresa May, who once said running through a field of wheat was the naughtiest thing she had ever done.

The questioner in that instance was Sky News’ Sophy Ridge. The tactic garnered so many headlines that Ridge made it her “thing”. Even if a politician did not know this, thinking on one’s feet is a basic requirement for the job.

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Yet when SNP leadership candidate Ash Regan appeared on Ridge on Sunday she seemed thrown by the line of questioning.

The same happened on the Channel 4 News debate last Thursday, when host Krishnan Guru-Murthy asked all three candidates if Gary Lineker’s asylum tweets were “red card or back of the net”.

The story had been leading bulletins all day so it was reasonable to expect the candidates would have an opinion.

But Ms Regan answered: “I have to say I didn’t see [the tweets] actually, so I don’t know. But let’s give him a red card.” Cue embarrassed silence in the studio.



She was ready for the Lineker question when Ridge interviewed her yesterday.

“I was asked this the other night actually and I hadn’t seen his tweet,” said Ms Regan. “But yeah, I think the way he has been treated is pretty terrible. He should be allowed to express his views.”

As the interview drew to a close, Ridge began her quickfire round. The exchange went as follows:

Ridge: Who is your political hero?

Regan: [Silence]. Mm. I don’t really have one. I admire many people who have made big social changes but there is certainly not anyone in recent history that I would name particularly.

Ridge: Ever broken the law?

Regan: Um, not that I can remember, no. Speeding perhaps definitely.

Ridge: Guilty pleasure?

Regan: Watching very lightweight television when I’m tired. Bridgerton, something like that.

Ridge: What’s your greatest achievement?

Regan: I was very proud of being able to stand up in the Scottish Parliament with a small number of people and make the case for the fact there was a conflict of rights under the gender recognition reform bill. There was a great sense in Scotland that the voices of women particularly had not been heard during this process so I was proud to give voice to that.

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In fairness to Regan, she was appearing via video call from Aberdeen and there was a delay on the line. That could account for the awkward silences. Even so, telling SNP members who have a vote in the leadership election that she “doesn’t really have a political hero” sounded like a snub to Ms Sturgeon.

Ms Regan was not the only person making the pre-Budget Sunday politics show round livelier than could have been expected. For that we can thank Gary Lineker.



His presence, or rather absence, was felt from the off. Sunday show viewers usually switch to BBC1 just in time to see Lineker signing off from Match of the Day, repeated from the previous night.

This, however, was weird. There was action and you could hear the fans, but without commentary the effect was disconcerting.

BBC1’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg had the better of the talking heads on Lineker. On the panel was Peter Salmon, TV executive and the man, we were told, who “used to be Gary Lineker’s boss”.

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While he praised Lineker as a “brilliant broadcaster”, he wondered if the former football had “outgrown” the job and the BBC.

“Twenty-five years in Match Of The Day – he’s more than just a TV presenter, he’s a national figure. He’s got views, he’s got passions, he’s been involved in looking after Ukrainian refugees. It may be that Gary’s outgrown the job and the role in the BBC.”

There was an illuminating exchange between Mark Thompson, BBC director-general from 2004-12, and the show’s host.



Appealing for “calmness and proportion”, Mr Thompson said: “It’s easy with news. If you, Laura Kuenssberg, had put out this tweet the Monty Python big foot would come down immediately and splat, that would be that.”

Kuenssberg interjected: “I would have been out the building in a couple of minutes."

“And rightly so,” Mr Thompson said.

So much for the black and white cases. Where Lineker was concerned, Mr Thompson said it looked like there had been a technical breach of the BBC guidelines on impartiality but it was a “grey area”.