Victoria Derbyshire 'absolutely devastated' after BBC axes her show

Telegraph Reporters
The Victoria Derbyshire Show began in 2015 - Geoff Pugh Photography Ltd Telegraph Media Group Ltd

Victoria Derbyshire has said she is "absolutely devastated" to learn that her BBC Two programme is being cancelled by the BBC. 

She tweeted that she had first learnt that the show would be axed in the media. 

She wrote: "Absolutely devastated at the plan to end our programme (which I first learned about in yesterday’s Times).

"I'm unbelievably proud of what our team and our show have achieved in under 5 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); & 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."

Derbyshire opened Thursday's episode by telling viewers: "We are still here, telling your stories and covering the issues that are important to you in your life.

"And do you know what? We don't give up."

The director of BBC News and current affairs Fran Unsworth said it had "not been an easy decision" to cancel Derbyshire's programme, blaming changing audience behaviours for the move.

In an email to staff on Thursday, Ms Unsworth wrote that over the last five years, the programme has delivered "award-winning, distinctive journalism, exploring topics which the BBC has not traditionally covered".

She added: "However, 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.

"The show's journalism makes a huge impact online, and we remain committed to building on that and giving those stories the widest possible audience across our outlets.

"The people affected directly by this change have been informed of this proposal. This is part of a wider series of changes which we will be announcing next week. I know times of change are never easy and I want to thank you all for your professionalism throughout."

She said that the BBC will be retaining "some of the programme's journalism roles". 

Of  Ms Derbyshire she said: "Victoria is a hugely talented and engaging presenter and will continue to be a central part of the BBC News team.

"She will be taking a wider role across our broadcast and digital output and will continue to lead on some of the high-profile audience events and original stories she has championed so effectively in recent years."

On Wednesday, Amol Rajan wrote on Twitter that the show was ending and that the cost of the programme was "deemed too high".

He said: "The Victoria Derbyshire Show is coming off air. I understand BBCNews is committed to Victoria + the (award-winning) journalism of the show.

"Cost of doing it on linear channel when savings are needed deemed too high. BBC declined to comment ahead of an announcement next week."

The Victoria Derbyshire Show began in 2015 and broadcasts live on BBC Two and BBC News every weekday from 10am.

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

Former editor of the show Louisa Compton described the plan to axe the show as "madness", saying: "An organisation that values original journalism and under-served audiences should not be doing this."

She added that the programme "consistently breaks huge stories, has won countless awards including a BAFTA and has broken new ground".

Shadow culture secretary Tracy Brabin said she would be "looking into why (the show) is being taken off air".

She tweeted: "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 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 license fee payers what they value and want to see more of," he said.