Not playing the game : political talk, hybridity and performance

Higgins, Michael and Smith, Angela (2024) Not playing the game : political talk, hybridity and performance. Journalism. ISSN 1464-8849 (

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This article looks at two prominent news interviews by non-political actors; one an accountability interview and the other part of a panel discussion. It shows how the exchanges contest the conventions of the journalistic interview, deploying a range of unorthodox verbal and non-verbal tactics. The accountability interview, broadcast on Sky News and posted on X (Twitter), includes a heightened performative component, using a variety of techniques to foreground verbal and embodied incredulity. This attracted widespread public and journalistic comment, and produces a manner of engagement that evades conventional language analysis. Performance is a still more prominent factor in the second example, which analyses an appearance by a professional comedian on a BBC political discussion programme. This sustains a comedic persona based upon an enactment of mock-sincerity, contesting the conventional forms of mediated political talk and commentary. Together, these performances are assessed in the context of increasing hybridity in broadcast news, and the article suggests their significance extends beyond their status as sharable media spectacle, such that they show how popular forms of performance can challenge the institutional norms of neutralism.