Derbyshire stated in a Twitter thread that she had only been made aware of her programme’s cancellation through an article published in The Times. Derbyshire, who said in her tweet addressing the programme’s cancellation that she was “unbelievably proud” of what the show had accomplished in its almost five-year history. Derbyshire had expressed her dismay at the BBC’s decision, while she had, at the broadcaster’s behest, attracted “a working class, young, diverse audience that BBC radio & TV news progs just don’t reach.”
The BBC attempted to justify its decision by citing a series of changes that happened to include the cessation of production on Derbyshire’s BAFTA-winning investigative programme. Fran Unsworth, director of news and current affairs, stated that Derbyshire’s programme had been cancelled due to the BBC’s commitment to “progress with our £80m savings target.”
One user arguing that “Personally I think they should cut shows like Question Time and Andrew Marr which keep rehashing the same garbage week in week out.”
However, the source of the furore levelled at the broadcaster was not limited to Derbyshire and her team. Many members of the public have expressed their disdain for the BBC’s decision arguing on social media that the weekly topical debate programme Question Time should be axed instead. The Radio Times quoted Twitter users who weighed in on the debacle. One user arguing that “Personally I think they should cut shows like Question Time and Andrew Marr which keep rehashing the same garbage week in week out.” Another user claimed that “The BBC needs to get rid of Question Time if they are looking to make cuts!!!”
It can be argued that the fast-paced relationship between politics and social media has made Question Time somewhat not fit for purpose.
Question Time has become a BBC institution, celebrating its 40th anniversary last year, though this has not made it immune to criticism. The often thoughtful and nuanced debate between panellists has in recent years been replaced by a string of celebrity guests who seldom contribute anything meaningful to the discussions taking place. Perhaps, in taking a more sympathetic stance, it can be argued that the fast-paced relationship between politics and social media has made Question Time somewhat not fit for purpose. Social media’s stifling of more in-depth discussion around complex issues leaves Question Time panellists searching for that perfect political point scoring soundbite to appease the whirlwind of the 24/7 news cycle.
What Victoria Derbyshire was able to contribute to the field of investigative journalism was of immeasurable value to those marginalised groups in society that are so often underrepresented in mainstream broadcasting. Derbyshire used her platform to shine a much-needed light on the suffering of the downtrodden; addressing issues ranging from the crisis in social housing to racism in football. The cancellation of Derbyshire’s programme will be felt even more acutely by those most in need of her investigation into issues affecting people the length and breadth of this country.