BBC decision to axe Clark and Thompson criticised
The BBC's shock decision to axe news anchors Geoff Clark and
Beverley Thompson has been called "bonkers".
A source inside the corporation’s Tunbridge Wells office has
told KentOnline their colleagues were in tears when bosses told
staff and morale is said to be at "rock bottom".
"Staff are shocked by the decision. Some people were in tears
and there are a lot who think it’s the wrong decision," the source
Many viewers have reacted angrily to the controversial decision
and several have voiced their opinions on KentOnline (comments can
be read below this article).
The source claims bosses concede that ratings could dip when the
presenters go and it could take time for them to recover. "When
they say long-term, they’re talking two-and-a-half years, which
seems absolutely bonkers to me."
Clark and Thompson are credited with turning around the fortunes
of BBC South East Today after the show was "a ratings disaster"
against its rival ITV Meridian Tonight.
Clark, a former Sky reporter, switched from ITV in 2004 in a
move regarded as a massive coup for the BBC. After he teamed up
with the experienced Thompson, a former health correspondent, the
BBC overhauled Meridian in the ratings war.
Bosses want a new look and create a "seamless" programme with
the earlier Six O’Clock News.
Staff claim the decision by Quentin Smith, editor, and head of
region Mick Rawsthorne was based on conversations with 16 people in
a "focus group" and follow-up contact with a further 820
The research allegedly found that the existing presenters were
"not very popular". The younger
pairing of Rob Smith and Polly Evans, who replace Clark and
Thompson in October, were more popular and showed more
Bosses deny ageism - but the source added: "A lot of us do think
age has certainly come into this. Throughout the last 10 years,
they’ve always been trying to chase a young audience.
"They're obsessed because the argument is that older viewers
will die off. But what tends to happen is when people get older,
they watch more local TV. That older audience is always being
Clark and Thompson are prevented from talking to the media - but
the source said they are "gutted" and concerned their reputation
has been damaged.
Mr Rawsthorne said: "We know viewers will miss Bev and Geoff and
I can assure the audience that this decision was not taken lightly.
Both are excellent presenters in their own right and their warm,
engaging, humorous partnership has been the backbone of the
programme for five years.
"Our audiences tell us they want to see the big news stories
affecting the region and these changes reflect the more
journalistic approach that viewers are asking for in today's
Mr Smith said: "Both Rob and Polly are already known to viewers
as much for their professionalism in reporting as for their
presenting abilities. They have both developed their skills here at
South East Today and, while I know Bev and Geoff will be a hard act
to follow, we hope viewers will take Rob and Polly to their
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