Victoria Derbyshire 'learned show was being axed from a newspaper report'

Victoria Derbyshire has said she is "absolutely devastated" at the BBC's plan to axe her show, having first read about it in a newspaper.

Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 5:00 pm

The broadcaster wants to pull the presenter's daily BBC Two current affairs programme from the schedule, blaming cuts.

Derbyshire spoke out as BBC director of news and current affairs Fran Unsworth told staff it had "not been an easy decision".

The 51-year-old broadcaster tweeted hours after going on air to present her show.

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"I'm unbelievably proud of what our team and our show have achieved in under five years breaking tonnes of original stories (which we were asked to do); attracting a working class, young, diverse audience that BBC radio & TV news progs just don't reach (which we were asked to do); and smashing the digital figures (which we were asked to do)."

She said she was "gutted particularly" for "all those people we gave a voice to".

Unsworth confirmed plans for the show, which hit the headlines with its interviews on abuse in football, to end later this year, saying "this has not been an easy decision".

She praised the programme, which was hailed in the BBC's annual report, as "exactly the type of journalism we need to continue" and described Derbyshire as "a hugely talented and engaging presenter".

But, she said, "audience behaviours are changing. Linear television viewing is declining, and as we progress with our £80 million savings target, it is no longer cost-effective to continue producing the programme on television".

Derbyshire, who receives a pay packet of between £215,000 and £219,999 according to the last BBC annual report, "will continue to be a central part of the BBC News team" and "will be taking a wider role across our broadcast and digital output", Unsworth added.

The decision is part of a wider series of changes to be announced next week.

Earlier, Derbyshire told viewers "We don't give up" as she opened her show on Thursday.

"We are still here, telling your stories and covering the issues that are important to you in your life," she said.

Victoria Derbyshire's show began in 2015 and broadcasts live on BBC Two and the BBC News channel every weekday from 10am.

The programme won a Bafta in 2017 and has been nominated for several awards, including RTS Presenter of the Year.

The show's former editor, Louisa Compton, has described the cancellation as "madness", saying: "An organisation that values original journalism and under-served audiences should not be doing this."

Anna Collinson, who works on the show, said: "It's gutting for our viewers. The BBC is constantly criticised for failing under-served audiences - the same audiences we were proud to serve and served well. I have already heard from interviewees who are devastated by this news.

"We are a scrappy, feisty and passionate bunch and always did our absolute best to hold those in power to account.

"Whatever happens now, I will forever be proud of working for this award-winning programme and will never forget everything it taught me."

Shadow culture secretary Tracy Brabin said she would be "looking into why (the show) is being taken off air", while Conservative MP Damian Collins, who is bidding to be re-elected as chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, said the reports were "disturbing".

"There needs to be a proper review of BBC finances as well as asking licence fee-payers what they value and want to see more of," he said.