Kilroy-Silk's television company cuts 65 employees

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The Independent Online

Robert Kilroy-Silk's anti-Islamic rant in a newspaper column in January has led to 65 members of his staff losing their jobs, the former Labour MP's television company revealed yesterday.

The BBC dropped Mr Kilroy-Silk as a presenter amid the furore that followed his comments that Arabs were "suicide bombers, limb-amputators and woman repressors".

The Kilroy Television Company had a temporary reprieve when the BBC decided to continue his chat show, but with the new presenters, Nicky Campbell and Nadia Sawalha. But the BBC announced last week that the new version of the show, Now You're Talking!, was being axed.

The Kilroy Television Company, which is based in Teddington, Middlesex, has no other shows in production once Now You're Talking! finishes. Production of the show ended this week and the last episode is to be shown next month.

Graham Walters, head of production at Kilroy Television, told Broadcast magazine: "We are not in a position to offer them [the 65 staff] jobs. The priority is to deal with this current series and then we will look at the future."

Mr Kilroy-Silk has announced that he is planning to stand as a candidate for the UK Independence Party in the European elections in June. When he announced in a joint statement with the BBC that he would be stepping down as a presenter, Mr Kilroy-Silk said that he would "continue to lead" the production company. "I believe this is the right moment to leave the programme and concentrate my energies in other directions," he said.

He acknowledged that his comments in a column for the Sunday Express had embarrassed the BBC. "I continue to believe it is my right to express my views, however uncomfortable they may be. However, I recognise the difficulties this has caused the BBC, and I believe my decision is the right way to resolve the situation."

The BBC controller of daytime television, Alison Sharman, announced last week that she would not be recommissioning the programme. The BBC said the decision had been taken because the morning chat-show format had run "for many years" and the BBC wanted to introduce a new "mix of lifestyle, consumer and current affairs programming".

Mr Campbell is to be consulted about other daytime television projects and Ms Sawalha will continue to present shows such as City Hospital and Family Exchange.