Ed Miliband has refused to rule out attempting to reform prime minister's questions – but admitted doing so would be "incredibly hard".

The Labour leader is facing calls from some within his senior team to shake up the weekly session in order to make it less confrontational – perhaps by defusing the topicality of the exchanges by making them topic-based.

That possibility was kept on the table by Miliband when he was questioned on the issue this weekend.

"I think it was President Obama who said you can disagree without being disagreeable and in a way maybe that's a sort of lesson for prime minister's questions," he told BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend.

Doing so in the "cauldron of the House of Commons" was "easier to state and harder to execute", he added.

Sources close to Miliband have told Politics.co.uk any attempt by Miliband to shake up PMQs would form part of a broader effort to reform British politics and reconnect with voters.

The weekly exchanges are unlikely to be abandoned completely, however.

"For all its ills," Miliband added, PMQs remains "an essential part of our democracy".

Earlier this month Speaker John Bercow wrote to Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg appealing to them to stop party whips organising the "orchestrated barracking" which makes PMQs so distinctive.

Miliband and Clegg responded positively to the call for cross-party talks on how to reform the session but Cameron was reluctant to participate, according to reports.

A spokesperson for Bercow told the Mail on Sunday: "The Speaker doesn't expect MPs to be Trappist monks, but he would like to open a discussion about improving behaviour at PMQs."