'Vanessa' air time to be cut by 25 minutes

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The Independent Online
THE VANESSA SHOW is paying the price for allowing impostors to appear as guests - the BBC is cutting the running time by more than a third. It will be reduced from 70 minutes to 45, so it can be "strengthened editorially", said a BBC statement, after an interim report by senior managers to the board of governors. It added: "Vanessa Feltz and the programme team support this decision."

The Vanessa Show started broadcasting on BBC1 last month. It was bought for pounds 2m after she failed to gain a big pay rise from ITV.

The preliminary report, prepared by Matthew Bannister and Will Wyatt, the chief executives of production and broadcast, repeated that booking guests for talk shows through agencies and presenting them as ordinary members of the public was wrong. Investigations had failed to uncover evidence that BBC staff had knowingly booked bogus guests, although five people were still being interviewed under disciplinary procedures.

In future, all Vanessa guests will have to sign a form promising to tell the truth or risk legal action.

Information about guests and audience members would be shared across daytime audience participation shows to stop the "serial appearances" of certain people.

The governors issued a statement later, saying it was "a matter of serious concern and regret" that some recent daytime shows had not met the standards expected from the BBC.

Daytime talk shows as a genre had also been considered, the statement continued. "Governors concluded that, while there was a role for well- produced and well-considered popular programmes which tackled family and personal issues in a responsible and enlightening way, there should be no place on the BBC for the sensational and voyeuristic."

r Noel's House Party is being scrapped at the end of its current run after eight years. The BBC1 controller, Peter Salmon, said it was time to "move on".