JOURNALIST Andrew Neil declared controversial TV presenter Neil Oliver is the “King of Scotland” within the first half hour of GB News launching last night.

The former BBC interviewer has set up the opinion-driven channel, which has been touted as the UK’s answer to America’s Fox News.

He has recruited an array of well-known names in UK broadcasting including Simon McCoy, Alistair Stewart and Kirsty Gallacher among other familiar faces.

Oliver, former NTS president and presenter of Coast, has made a name for himself with outspoken claims – saying Scottish independence would infringe on his human rights, and recently calling lockdown the “biggest single mistake in world history”.

He will be hosting a weekly current affairs and interview programme, and was one of the first guests as the channel kicked off at 8pm last night.

The National:

In his opening monologue, presenter Andrew Neil (above) said: “GB News will not slavishly follow the existing news agenda. We are not a rolling news channel nor will we be providing conventional news bulletins. But on all of our programmes and platforms you will always know what is going on and what the country is talking about.”

He added: “GB News will not be another echo chamber for the metropolitan mindset that already dominates so much of the media. It is our explicit aim to empower those who feel their stories, their opinions, their concerns have been ignored or diminished. We are proud to be British. The clue is in the name.”

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After Oliver suffered a brief problem with his microphone, Neil joked: “We are proud to have the King of Scotland in our line-up on GB News and I promise, your majesty, next time we will get you a better microphone.”

The “King of Scotland” moniker came about because Oliver shares images of letters sent to him by fans with bizarre addresses on the envelopes. One person had sent the message to “King of Scotland, Stirling” and it successfully arrived at his home, which he and Neil discussed on the programme.

During the broadcast, Oliver was asked about how he has gone from presenting history documentaries to getting involved in political commentary.

“It’s most unexpected,” he said. “Either by accident or design I seem to have moved on, I’ve taken a step into the unknown. I’m known for talking about the history, about the great landscape, the great variety of stones that are here in the million years of human history in this archipelago. But somehow over the last 18 months or two years I seem to have come to the fore with opinions. And they are my opinions and they will be honestly expressed.”

Oliver also told the host that people in Scotland are expected to be either British or Scottish, but has always felt like both.

“Until the day I will consider myself to be British,” he said.