All media organisations have to make cuts from time to time. It is what they cut, and why, that is significant, and so it has proved with the increasingly under-fire BBC and the news that the Victoria Derbyshire show, one of the Corporation’s few remaining genuine examples of investigative journalism holding the powerful to account, was to be axed - the reason being that it allegedly costs too much to put on air.
Victoria Derbyshire - doing real journalism
For some, this was a surprise, but should not have been: this was, after all, the show that had so embarrassed the humourless and insensitive Dominic Raab in the run-up to the 2017 General Election, where he had claimed that food bank users were not poor, but merely experiencing a “cash flow problem”. Making the Tories look bad and being axed? As Private Eye might have asked, I wonder if the two are in any way related?
The response to the news was not good. After the Beeb admitted “Victoria Derbyshire Show to come off air as part of BBC cuts”, Paul Lewis mused “If this happens it is very sad. Against my predictions the Victoria Derbyshire show has turned out to be innovative and deal brilliantly with important social issues including poverty which mainstream programmes struggle with. It is genuinely a people’s current affairs programme”.
Even Stephen Pollard of the Jewish Chronicle - no raving lefty he - was dismayed. “Utterly bonkers.[Victoria Derbyshire] is one of the few BBC News programmes that is a must watch and has a clear news agenda that it fulfils”. Former MP Danielle Rowley added “This is bad news for the BBC. [Victoria Derbyshire] made complex news stories accessible through an engaging format, a wide range of voices, and great journalism & presenting”.
Foster carer and journalist Martin Barrow responded “Madness … [Victoria Derbyshire] is the best programme on the BBC. Shall always be grateful for its reports on the children's care system and young people's mental health”. MP Tracy Brabin wanted to know what was going on, adding “Rigorous campaigning & commitment to public having their say made it pretty unique in daytime TV. Victoria herself was sharp & approachable with a personal journey that made her relatable”. And there was more.
From Crewe and Nantwich, Laura Smith told “This show& [Victoria Derbyshire] herself did an awful lot to make sure the survivors of historic sexual abuse had their voices heard.I’ll never forget the immense bravery of [Steven Walters], [Gary Cliffe], [Andy Woodward[, [the Offside Trust] and others. Proud to know them”. Duncan Weldon of the Economist chipped in “An utterly bizarre decision. BAFTA winning show doing great work”.
But out there on the intolerant, uncaring and sneering right, someone was pleased. Like Darren Crimes, er, sorry, Grimes: "Majority Tory Britain just gets better and better”. And one-person slime trail David Vance, shrugging “It's a start, and welcome, but surely better to just close the BBC down? Pray for Victoria”. Tells you all you need to know.
Once again, journalism is publishing, or indeed broadcasting, what someone does not want to see published, or broadcast. And the increasingly craven BBC is axing it.
Trebles all round for leering Tory boot boys. A lesson in grim reality for everyone else.
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