Corporation chiefs announced BBC Two’s Andrew Neil Show would not be returning to the schedules after it was taken off air during the coronavirus crisis. Bosses said the show was being axed as part of a range of cuts across its news and political programming.
But Mr Neil told a follower on Twitter: “The BBC said it could come back if I accepted a new, late afternoon time in the BBC2 schedule. But BBC2 bosses did not want it back at 7pm.
“I declined the new time so the show was cancelled.”
In response to one fan who said “A very poor decision by BBCTwo bosses”, Mr Neil responded: :BBC2 never wanted the show at 7pm in the first place. The then DG insisted.
“Now he’s gone it was no surprise to me BBC2 made a land grab to get it back.”
Furious fans of the show expressed their frustration on social media.
Amanda Bowles tweeted: “I find it bizarre. If I was in charge of the BBC I’d have Andrew Neil front and centre prime time.
“I don’t understand it. Andrew interviews brilliantly, he is objective, intelligent, articulate. Do the BBC not appreciate these qualities?”
Jim Arbuthnot said: “Andrew Neil’s This Week was the very best programme on TV, far too late but I would never miss it. I’d pay to see it back again wherever it would be shown.”
Chris Dickinson tweeted: “Utter foolishness on their part. I can’t fathom a figure who more epitomises the requirements and aims of an impartial news service.”
Janet Hill said: “BBC don’t want impartial, they want left leaning-journalists.”
The BBC said it was talking to Mr Neil about a new BBC One interview show but the presenter is thought to be considering his options and recently hinted he could move to another broadcaster.
The corporation’s cutbacks will see 520 jobs will go from a workforce of around 6,000 people.
The figure includes 450 job cuts that were announced as part of an £80m savings drive in January but then put on hold.
One of Mr Neil’s former programmes, lunchtime TV show Politics Live, will return four days a week after being rested during the pandemic.
More than 100 MPs and peers recently wrote to the BBC, arguing that axing it permanently would “seriously harm the ability of the BBC to scrutinise and explain” politics.
Ms Unsworth said the BBC would concentrate on fewer stories, with journalists pooled in centralised teams rather than working for specific programmes.
The BBC News Channel and BBC World will continue to share some output in the mornings and evenings, as they have done during the COVID-19 crisis, although they will remain separate channels.
Published at Sun, 26 Jul 2020 12:46:00 +0000