|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Producer(s)||Central Independent Television|
|Running time||90mins (inc. adverts)|
|Original channel||Central Independent Television|
|Original run||17 January 1986 – 7 September 2001|
Central Weekend (also called Central Weekend Live) is a British television debate show which ran from 1986 to 2001. Known for the confrontational nature of its studio audience and topics, it was presented for many years by Nicky Campbell. It was broadcast late on a Friday night in the Central region, and debated various topics and current affairs issues - usually subjects that had been featured in the week's news.
Though Campbell was the main host, there were a number of other presenters who joined him throughout the show's time on air. These included Anna Soubry, Adrian Mills, Kaye Adams, Sue Jay, Roger Cook, Bibi Baskin, Paul Ross, John Stapleton, James Whale, Ed Doolan, Victoria Derbyshire, Patricia Mitchell and Claudia Winkleman. The theme music was composed by Andy Quin.
The show was broadcast live from the Central Television studios on Broad Street, Birmingham, although it was later moved to the Nottingham studios at Lenton Lane. It became a popular highlight of the week's television in the Midlands region and enjoyed a 40% share of the viewing audience. Confrontational from the outset, debates could become quite heated and audience members sometimes had to be restrained by on-set bouncers. However, on at least one occasion, the show's floor manager was assaulted by one of the returning guests.
In 1987, it become the first British television programmes to examine seriously the AIDS virus. Central subsequently produced a drama series on the topic, called Intimate Contact.
During the 1992 General Election campaign, Conservative MP Edwina Currie poured a glass of orange juice over Labour's Peter Snape shortly after an edition of the show had finished airing. Speaking about the incident later, Currie said "I just looked at my orange juice, and looked at this man from which this stream of abuse was emanating, and thought 'I know how to shut you up.' ". On another occasion, during a debate on women's football in March 1998, an audience member got drunk and ran amok on set, forcing the show to be taken off the air. 44-year-old Robert Davy was later jailed for 12 months over the incident.
In 2001, a complaint was made to the Independent Television Commission after it emerged that an edition of the show had featured fake guests. A debate on the effects of soap operas on the lives of individuals had featured two patients of a "soap clinic", who it later emerged had been fakes.
Due to the programme's popularity in the Midlands, similar shows were aired in other regions. For example Granada aired a show called Up Front, while Tyne Tees had Late and Live, both of which used the same format. A national version of Central Weekend was also shown throughout the ITV Network for a time during the 1990s. Thursday Night Live went out in a similar late night slot on a Thursday evening, and featured much the same kind of debate as Central Weekend. It was also presented by Nicky Campbell.
- Quirke, Thomas (16 September 1992). "Gloves off, this is 'real people' TV: The no-holds-barred style of American tabloid television debates is taking root in Britain. Thomas Quirke watched a programme in the making". The Independent. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
- MELANIPHY, MIKE. "Central". Television and Radio 1988: The IBA's Yearbook. Retrieved 2013.
- Whitney, Craig R. (29 March 1992). "Tories Say Party's Strategy Is Hurting Campaign". New York Times. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
- "Man jailed after live TV outburst". The Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group). 17 October 1998.
- "ITC Complaints Report for Central Weekend". Retrieved 14 September 2008.
- "IMDB profile for Thursday Night Live".
- Aaronovitch, David (15 August 1999). "Profile: Nicky Campbell - This Scot's got under our skin". London: The Independent. Retrieved 3 June 2009.