The future of the BBC’s lunchtime politics show appears to be hanging in the balance as reports suggest it could be reduced to a weekly show or even axed as part of BBC cuts.
The Radio Times reports that ‘BBC sources acknowledge that the future of Politics Live hangs in the balance at a time of cuts to program budgets’.
The Spectator reports one insider as saying: ‘They won’t give us any timeline for it returning to five days. Given that we’re in a time of political crisis and its main host is a woman, it’s a very bad look.’
The suggestion that the daily offering could leave the airwaves has left fans of the programme disappointed.
SNP MP John Nicolson tweeted: ‘If it happens yet another quality program fronted by a high profile woman hits the dust,’ he fumed on Twitter.
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Former Labour MP Gloria De Piero posted: ‘The BBC can’t really be thinking about getting rid of #PoliticsLive can they? I was gutted when they axed the Victoria Derbyshire show, now Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn? These are some of the most talented presenters and it’s not just presenters, it’s about losing talented producers too’.
Journalist Helen Lewis wrote: ‘It would be a huge shame if the BBC’s Politics Live ended. It’s proper public interest journalism, scrutinising and explaining policy announcements, as well as allowing Mark Francois and Will Self to eyeball each other.’
Such rumours surrounding Politics Live follow presenter Andrew Neil reporting his future at the BBC is in doubt and he may be ‘surplus to requirements’.
The Andrew Neil Show has been off air since the lockdown was implemented, and Politics Live has only just returned once a week, without the veteran presenter at the helm.
Speaking to the Radio Times, the presenter claimed he was becoming ‘surplus to requirements’.
‘I would like to be doing more shows, of course I would. I don’t know what’s happening.
‘There’s no clarity at the moment, so I’m just waiting for the BBC to make up its mind.’
But a BBC spokesperson denied the reports, and said they were working on bringing programmes back as the lockdown eases.
They said: ‘Andrew’s a key part of our political coverage and we, like our viewers, are very much looking forward to seeing him back on BBC screens.
‘The Covid-19 outbreak meant we streamlined our operations and suspended some programmes to keep a continuous news service on air but we are gradually introducing more content and will set out further details soon.’