Why is The Victoria Derbyshire Show – a popular current affairs programme that gives a platform for so many underrepresented people and issues – being cancelled by the BBC?
This week, the BBC’s media editor, Amol Rajan, announced that The Victoria Derbyshire Show will be taken off air as part of the public broadcaster’s spending cuts. According to a BBC report, Rajan said the cost of running the news and current affairs programme on a linear channel “when savings are needed” had been “deemed too high”.
In a tweet posted on 23 January, Victoria Derbyshire responded to the news by saying she first learnt about the plans in The Times newspaper, and shared her disappointment that the show would no longer be broadcast.
“I’m unbelievably proud of what our team and our show have achieved in under five years,” she wrote. “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); & smashing the digital figures (which we were asked to do).
“I’m gutted particularly for our brilliant, young, ambitious, talented team – love ‘em. And for all those people we gave a voice to. Love them too.”
She also shared a poignant text message that had been sent into the show.
It read: “I sat in front of a lethal bottle of sleeping pills from 8pm watching the BBC news channel all night preparing to die after over 30 years of unbelievable domestic abuse I was so alone. Then The Victoria Derbyshire programme came on and it was about women who have managed to get away from abusive relationships.
“I couldn’t believe it but I listened to every single word and at the end of the programme I contacted to helpline and after talking to someone for an hour I went and flushed the pills away and my children still have a mother. How can you dare [axe] this very valuable, helpful and life-saving programme. There will be a public outcry without a doubt.”
The tweet has since received over 14k likes, with many people supporting the viewer’s opinion.
Derbyshire is a renowned broadcaster who has been presenting the show since it first aired in 2015. She has since won awards for the show, including a BAFTA Television Award for her interview with four former footballers about the alleged sexual abuse they experienced as boys. Other exclusive stories the show has uncovered include how family courts treat victims of domestic violence and the number of deaths linked to Xanax.
The decision to cut a show that reached a large audience with reports on such important social issues has caused a bewildered and outraged reaction. People on Twitter have been sharing their reasons why it should be saved in the cuts. The big question seems to be: why are hugely popular female-led shows like The Victoria Derbyshire Show taking the hit?
The show’s former editor, Louise Compton, said: “An organisation that values original journalism and underserved audiences should not be doing this. It’s madness. #VictoriaLIVE consistently breaks huge stories, has won countless awards including a BAFTA and has broken new ground. Plus it has an outstanding team and presenter.”
Labour MP Jess Phillips tweeted: “This is really sad to see, political programming that reached a largely working class audience. Without their work on family courts I really believe that we would not have got the government to agree to the review, which is just one example of the good journalism done by the team.”
Journalist Marisa Bate wrote: “If BBC really are axing Victoria Derbyshire, I’m furious…an award winning show that reaches digital audiences with endless scoops and important journalism…What, exactly, does a woman have to do to get the recognition she deserves at the BBC?”
A journalist from the show, Ellie Costello, shared: “#VictoriaDerbyshire is a brave and dynamic show led by a woman of the same ilk. It gives a voice to those who are rarely heard; shines a light on stories that are rarely told about communities that are too often ignored. Its journalism is award-winning. This news is so sad.”
Channel 4 news reporter Fatima Manji added: “This is outrageous. It’s a great show that’s broken stories and brought us new talent. I’ve also heard it mentioned by friends who don’t engage with many news programmes. Really hope the BBC reconsider.”
Even Piers Morgan (uncharacteristically) showed support for Derbyshire, writing: “Very strange decision. It was an excellent programme & @vicderbyshire is a superb journalist. Surely the BBC isn’t now finding the cash to pay for its gender pay fiasco by cancelling other women’s shows?”
The BBC declined to provide a comment for the BBC News report ahead of a bigger announcement next week.
Images: BBC, Getty