Geoff Clark's sudden departure from BBC South East leaves colleagues shocked
“My boss has told me to go so I’m going.”
With those few words, and thanks to viewers and colleagues,
regional television giant Geoff Clark bowed out of BBC South East
on Thursday night.
Last night’s broadcast provoked a further outcry from viewers,
with many saying they will no longer watch the programme and switch
to its rival news show ITV Meridian Tonight.
The man credited with transforming a ratings disaster into a
flagship news show watched by more viewers than rival ITV Meridian
Tonight made his final broadcast without his usual colleague
Beverley Thompson by his side. She had left in tears 24 hours
He was joined instead by Natalie Graham. After Clark made his
parting comment - “As Beverley said last night, that’s it. It
really is it from me” - she gestured towards him, and without
looking to camera, said: “Thank you Geoff. Goodbye.”
It was perhaps a sign of colleagues’ affection for the
experienced anchors and anger at management’s shock decision to
oust them six weeks earlier than expected.
lengthy campaign by viewers and MPs, the BBC ignored the protests
and pressed ahead with a decision that appears to have won little
In a comment just before Clark’s final show,
the BBC hailed the pair as “excellent journalists” which makes the
decision even more bewildering.
It added: “We would like to take this
opportunity to thank them both for their commitment and hard work
on the programme and we know they will be missed.”
After Clark’s final broadcast, viewers expressed further outrage
to Kent Online.
Lea wrote: “I think it is absolutely disgusting the way in which
these two wonderful presenters have been treated. My husband and I
won’t bother watching BBC South East Today again.”
Sally Russell said: “I am very sad to see Geoff and Beverley
will no longer be presenting South East Today. I have met Geoff and
he is a lovely genuine man. He and Beverley make a really good
team. They will be missed. Meridian here I come.”
Edwin and Beryl Stiles accused the BBC of a ridiculous decision.
“We will no longer watch the BBC News and will view the Meridian
News in the future.”
Martin Jackson, a respected Kent-based media commentator, this
month called the BBC “bonkers” for the decision.
With Clark and Thompson gone, bosses will be looking anxiously
at the ratings to see if their gamble has paid off.
As someone familiar with the situation said: “Managers have
staked their own jobs on this change because if in six or 12 months
time things have got worse, I think their positions will be
For a more detailed look at this story, see Kent Business.
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