BBC sacks four on Vanessa show

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FOUR PRODUCTION staff were sacked by the BBC yesterday as it tried to draw a line under the scandal of impostors on The Vanessa Show.

A three-week inquiry was launched last month after claims that a showbusiness agency had provided actors to pose as ordinary members of the public making remarkable confessions on the show. Of the five employees suspended over the allegations, four were dismissed yesterday, while a fifth was given a formal warning and moved to a different job.

A statement from BBC Production, the corporation's programme-making arm, said no further investigations were envisaged and insisted that the inquiry had found no evidence that BBC staff "knowingly" booked fake guests. "On current evidence, it is not intended to initiate further disciplinary interviews with anyone else in the Vanessa team," the statement said.

Among the impostors on the show were two "feuding sisters" who were in fact strippers and had never met before, and an unmarried actress who said she was a battered wife. Tony Papotto, a showbusiness agent, said he was paid pounds 100 plus VAT for each guest he supplied.

After the deceptions were exposed, the BBC interviewed all 28 members of the Vanessa production team before carrying out disciplinary proceedings against the five employees.

The programme's length is being cut from 70 minutes to 45 and all guests now have to sign a legally binding declaration they will be honest and truthful.