When Nigel Farage appears on Question Time in Blackpool in two weeks time it will be his 32nd appearance on the programme.
The decision to invite him on again at a time when UKIP is at just 2% in the polls has caused controversy, with Labour peer Andrew Adonis today calling on TV regulator Ofcom to step in.
QT’s deputy editor has hit back by pointing out Farage hasn’t been on the show since 2016 and UKIP’s poll numbers give them the same UK-wide share as the SNP and Plaid Cymru combined.
While Farage might have taken a well earned break in recent times, the stats back up the widespread perception that he has been given a disproportionate amount of airtime.
He has been on the show 31 times since his first appearance in November 2000. He’s about to reach 32.
That means he’s made more appearances this century than:
- Prime Minister Theresa May (26), Brexit Secretary David Davis (26) and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox (20) and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (13).
- Major figures in the last Labour government, such as Harriet Harman (26), Peter Hain (28), and Douglas Alexander (23).
- Former Lib Dem leaders Menzies Campbell (30) and Charles Kennedy (26).
- Former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond (22).
The only person to match his number of appearances on the programme this century is former Chancellor Ken Clarke, who is also on the show next month.
And after that programme, Farage will have made the most appearances per year on average since Question Time started.
His 32 appearances over 18 years works out at an average of 1.7 per year. Ken Clarke’s 58 appearances over 36 years is an average of 1.6 per year.
We’re no Beeb bashers and clearly they’ve picked up the public sentiment on this by easing off on the Farage appearances since 2016.
But maybe this one ought to be his last for a very, very, very long time…