Sam Delaney’s News Thing was an anarchic fixture on RT for two years. Then the novichok poisonings changed the mood
A few months into making my show Sam Delaney’s News Thing, which I hosted for two-and-a-half years on RT UK (the channel formerly known as Russia Today), we made a sketch called Diana in Heaven. It featured the writer and broadcaster Andy Dawson dressed in a blond wig and pearls, giving celebrity gossip reports from the afterlife. Dawson is a middle-aged, overweight man from Sunderland. He delivered his (awful) impression of Diana in front of a shabby celestial backdrop, while swigging from a can of lager. The production team and I thought it was hilarious, but when the channel boss saw it he was unimpressed. “You cannot broadcast this sketch!” he told us in his firm Russian accent. “There are some thingsthe British public just won’t accept.”
So we removed it. I mean, we liked it, but not enough to make a stand and fall out with the channel. We were surprised they took the memory of the Princess of Wales so seriously. After all, it was the first – and almost the last – time RThad interfered in any of our output. But in many ways, the incident embodied our relationship: fun, yes, but also a bit stressful and confusing.