Mark Dolan: Spare a thought for Andrew Neil for the nine days he won't get back

Andrew Neil - we feel your pain

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It's time for an occasional item I do on the show, it’s just my view, my words, and my opinion, and it’s called “we feel your pain”, in which I reach out to a famous celebrity, that's going through a tough time. Tonight, the former chairman and presenter of GB News, Andrew Neil.

This highly respected journalist, of almost 50 years standing, has this week described his decision to join GB News as “probably the single biggest mistake of my career”. He said he was still haunted, by the shambles of its launch, he described the channel, as a UKIP tribute band, and said it risks falling into irrelevance, and obscurity.

I’ll be honest, the relationship didn’t start brilliantly, with Andrew pointing out in an email, that he’d been flown to the GB News launch, from his homes in Monaco and the South of France, in "the world’s smallest private jet". The world’s, smallest, private jet. How could they?

Andrew, has previously spoken movingly, in an interview with the Mail newspaper, about the pain, of all the technical problems at the start - microphones not coming on when they were supposed to, cameras out of focus, and guests, suddenly unavailable on video link. Yes GB News is a start-up, a brand-new channel, built from scratch in months rather than years (as it normally, WOULD take), but this is Andrew Neil were talking about. He deserves better.

Andrew, recalls the moment when, at the end of his FIRST week, he decided he couldn’t go on. The whole situation left him ‘in despair’. Yes, lots of people have been through hell in the course of this pandemic, but it can't have been worse than microphones not coming on, cameras out of focus and guests, not available on video link. And tiny, private jets.

After presenting the last of his nine shows, that’s right nine shows, Andrew tells the interviewer at the Mail, that his personal driver was able to get to the studios, to whip him straight to the airport and over to the South of France. Given his show ended at 9pm and he was in the air by 10pm, I can only guess it was a private jet. Because Ryanair are QUICK, but they’re not THAT quick. If it WAS a private jet, I hope it was a bigger one, than the SMALL one, he was in previously. A tiny, private jet. No sooner had his good-sized jet pierced, the clouds, he goes on, that he had a glass of champagne in his hands. And I can't think of anyone, that deserved that more, after nine whole days of hell.

It's been really difficult without Andrew, I'm not going to lie. Yes, our daytime and evening ratings have grown significantly, and we’ve had over a billion views online, but we really miss having someone so positive, and so constructive around. Someone that really backs the team, that he was part of creating.

Those talented young journalists and presenters, were looking forward to having you as a mentor Andrew, but you taught them, a different lesson.

Andrew is none too happy with some of our output and he called ME a shock jock. I was shocked, I thought he was the Jock. Look, Andrew Neil has a HUGE future. He may even go back, to the license-fee funded BBC, which would be confusing, because he started GB News to be anti-woke, but Andrew knows best. If he does go back to the Beeb, or that Spectator TV show he does in his bedroom, I just hope he's able to get through more than nine shows. But if he doesn’t, who could blame him? The guy's only human.

So please set aside your own selfish concerns, as we navigate our way out of a pandemic and the biggest recession in 300 years, and spare a thought for the former chairman of GB News and presenter for nine days he won’t get back, Andrew Neil.

Andrew - we feel your pain