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A new look for politics on ITV Cymru Wales

Adrian Masters. Photo credit: Huw John

Sharp End, the long running political series from ITV Cymru Wales returns this week with a new look and a new presenter.

National Correspondent Rob Osborne takes over in the hot seat as Political Editor Adrian Masters launches a new political podcast and concentrates on daily news coverage on air and online.

It’s the latest step in a 12 year career for Rob who joined ITV Cymru Wales straight out of university.  In that time, he has won multiple awards including TV Journalist of the Year, Scoop of the Year and the overall Journalist of the Year prize at the Wales Media Awards.

He has also covered most of the big stories in Wales over the last decade and beyond including following a Swansea grandmother to Dignitas in Switzerland and reporting on Welsh people caught up in the terror attack on Barcelona.

Rob is proud of his Valleys roots, growing up at Clydach Vale in the Rhondda. He studied Politics and Law at Swansea University before training at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Culture.

“My dad once told me that politics was about people and that’s something I’ve never forgotten,” says Rob.

“I hope to use that approach on the new look Sharp End. I want to get around Wales, into different communities and hear what people on the ground are saying. That helps to spot trends and get a feel for politics as people see it. After all – they are the boss.”

Sharp End Producer Ailsa Chalk added: “We want to build on what Sharp End has always done – analysing and explaining political decisions, announcements and issues to find out what they mean for Wales and the people who live here.

“From Coronavirus to Brexit, education to jobs, every decision made has an impact on people and we want to tell those stories in a way that’s accessible, while still holding the decision makers to account.

“With the pandemic continuing to change the way we live our lives and an election in just a few months time, it’s a great time to bring back Sharp End with a new look for a new series.”

The refresh comes as ITV Cymru Wales Political Editor Adrian Masters launches an engaging new podcast on politics and the pandemic – The New Normal with Adrian Masters.

Early podcast episodes have featured First Minister Mark Drakeford on making gruelling decisions during the pandemic, former Shadow Health Minister Angela Burns on the loneliness of lockdown while looking after sheltering relatives and Cardiff Lord Mayor Dan De’Ath on Black Lives Matter.

The podcast launch comes after Adrian presented more than 350 Sharp Ends over nearly ten years.

Said Adrian: “These podcasts are called The New Normal and that works in more ways than one because they’re aiming at a different way of looking at politics as well as trying to understand the changed world we all live in as a result of coronavirus.

“So the pandemic is our starting point but not the politics of it, at least not straight away.

“Have you noticed how nearly every conversation you have includes asking people about their experience of lockdown or isolating or even of having the virus? That’s the way these conversations start and then go on to ask questions about the way governments are handling it before heading off into all sorts of unexpected directions. And they really are conversations: I’m listening as well as asking.”

Podcast Producer Ciara Cohen-Ennis added: “We have received some great feedback for the first few episodes of the podcast. One listener commented on the episode with Angela Burns and Dan De’Ath, ‘How refreshing to hear such “normal” views in this abnormal time. Your guests give us such positive encouragement for a way forward into a new normal.’

“Listeners have been enjoying the opportunity to hear extended interviews, which delve deeper into the professional and personal lives of those involved in politics.”

Zoe Thomas, Editor, English Language Programmes said “The last few extraordinary months have shown more than ever before the need for trusted, reliable content that is directly relevant to the people of Wales. The new look Sharp End and The New Normal podcast will provide that content across a range of platforms, and, we hope, reach out to new and existing audiences.”