Have I Got News For You is pulled at the last minute for ‘Brexit bias’: Beeb axes show after ‘impartiality’ concerns over Change UK leader Heidi Allen’s appearance ahead of EU elections
- Last night’s Have I Got News For You was pulled over ‘impartiality’ concerns
- The BBC decided to alter the programming due to the appearance of Heidi Allen
- During election season the BBC must follow strict guidelines over impartiality
The BBC pulled last night’s Have I Got News For You just minutes before it was due to air over fears it would breach election impartiality rules by having Change UK leader Heidi Allen as a guest.
The programme was removed from the evening schedule because Heidi Allen, of Change UK/The Independent Group, was on the show.
BBC editorial guidelines around election periods do not allow programmes where ‘equal representation’ is not achieved.
With the upcoming European Parliament elections, the BBC decided it would be ‘inappropriate’ to feature the episode this evening, replacing it with an episode of Would I Lie To You, followed by Mrs Brown’s Boys, with a view to broadcasting HIGNFY it at a later date.
The Have I Got News For You Twitter page announced the decision, posting: ‘Sorry everyone. The BBC have pulled tonight’s edition of #HIGNFY – no, we didn’t book Danny Baker.
The BBC have pulled an episode of Have I Got News For You (pictured) because of impartiality concerns (pictured: An audience member photographed the set and posted it to Reddit)
The Have I Got News For You Twitter page announced the decision, posting: ‘Sorry everyone. The BBC have pulled tonight’s edition of #HIGNFY – no, we didn’t book Danny Baker’
Pictured: Heidi Allen of Change UK attends a People’s Vote rally, London, April 30
‘We booked Heidi Allen, a member of a party no-one knows the name of (not even the people in it), because the Euro elections, which nobody wants, may or may not be happening. Sorry.’
The BBC said the episode will be broadcast ‘at a later date’.
Ms Allen, who left the Conservative Party earlier this year to join pro-Remain Change UK, called for an explanation into the BBC’s decision.
She tweeted: ‘Maybe I’m just not as funny as Nigel Farage eh #hignfy @haveigotnews!?
‘He’s so funny, he seems to be on the BBC all the time! An explanation would be appreciated, not least to acknowledge the hard work of the entire crew who worked diligently to put the show together.’
Ms Allen voiced her outrage over the decision, responding to a tweet that said Nigel Farage was on the programme in April 2014
Ms Allen herself voiced her concern, writing: ‘Maybe I’m just not as funny as Nigel Farage eh #hignfy @haveigotnews!?’
Ms Allen had tweeted out that she would appear on the programme yesterday
Many social media users voiced their concerns that the BBC had featured Nigel Farage on Question Time earlier this week, with some calling it an ‘interesting decision’ and others saying it is the ‘rankest hypocrisy’.
One Twitter user said: ‘How on earth does this decision only get made in the hour before the show starts?’
Another posted: ‘Has anybody told #Ofcom about Nigel Farage’s revolving door to #BBCQT?’
Another voiced his displeasure at the replacement programming this evening, writing: ‘Replaced by the utter bilge that is Mrs Brown’s Boys. Waste of a licence fee.’
A BBC spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘The BBC has specific editorial guidelines that apply during election periods.
Pictured: Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage appears on BBC’s Question Time. A spokesperson clarified: ‘Question Time is a political debate programme, which has representatives from various different political parties’
A BBC spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘The BBC has specific editorial guidelines that apply during election periods’ (pictured: Jo Brand in a 2016 episode)
‘Because of this it would be inappropriate to feature political party leaders on entertainment programmes during this short election period, which does not allow for equal representation to be achieved.
‘So we will not broadcast the scheduled episode of HIGNFY featuring Heidi Allen, leader of Change UK. We will look to broadcast this episode at a later date.’
When asked over the difference between Ms Allen’s appearance on HIGNFY and Mr Farage’s on Question Time, the spokesperson added: ‘The statement refers to appearance during entertainment programmes during this short election period, which does not allow for equal representation to be achieved.
‘Question Time is a political debate programme, which has representatives from various different political parties.’
The Have I Got News For You Twitter page continued to post after announcing the decision
Comedian Jo Brand was slated to guest host the episode while stand-up comic Phil Wang was the other guest panellist.
First being aired in 1990, 501 episodes of the panel show have been broadcast on the BBC with guests ranging from Grayson Perry to Boris Johnson.
In 2013 another episode of the programme was at the centre of an impartiality scandal ahead of the Scottish independent referendum.
Ofcom and the BBC received more than 100 complaints about anti-Scottish bias as Ian Hislop joked that Mars Bars would be the currency on an independent Scotland.
That was followed by the guest host, English actor Ray Winstone, saying: ‘To be fair the Scottish economy has its strengths – its chief exports being oil, whisky, tartan and tramps.’