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Monday, 4 November, 2002, 08:34 GMT
Was the BBC right to sack Angus Deayton?
Angus Deayton has been fired as presenter of BBC One's Have I Got News For You following further revelations about his private life.

After the second bout of newspaper reports of his cocaine use and encounters with prostitutes, TV bosses feared the scandal was overwhelming the satirical programme he hosted.

Disclosures of private drug use resulted in Blue Peter presenter Richard Bacon and LWT presenter Michael Barrymore losing the TV jobs they were doing.

Children's television presenter Jamie Theakston was also embarrassed by the exposure of his visit to a prostitute last Christmas, though his misdemeanour was dismissed as "a personal thing" by the BBC.

Do the personal lives of presenters matter to you? If they are professional enough at work, do they deserve to be sacked for private behaviour? Where do you draw the line? Does knowledge of presenters' backgrounds make them more interesting to watch?

This Talking Point was suggested by Pete Hazell, UK:

Is anybody actually interested in celebrity scandals, or are the tabloids just trying to score points off one another by getting to these celebrity stories first?

If you have any suggestions for Talking Points,

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

His private life is completely irrelevant to his job

Lydia, UK
I think his private life is completely irrelevant to his job and he should not have been sacked. But, I'm glad he was, because I always found him to be a smugly irritating person with very little spontaneous wit. Now if Paul Merton ever left, then the show would really have problems.
Lydia, UK

I've just seen the first episode without Angus Deayton and it was horrible. I cannot believe the stupidity of the BBC in destroying such a prize asset as HIGNFY. Next week Anne Robinson! Words fail me...
Mark White, England

Angus was the backbone of the BBC's funniest show. Having just watched Paul Merton's feeble attempt to fill his shoes I won't be tuning in again.
Rory, Ireland

Angus is part of "Have I Got News For You" without him I am without doubt that the show will fail, it is the relationship between Ian, Paul, and Angus that makes the show work. In my opinion if Angus was still capable of doing his job i.e. hosting a satirical news show (which he is, and very good too) then why should his private life come into it! I for one am disappointed that the BBC sees fit to sack him after many years of very entertaining television. Plenty of people make mistakes!
Simon Birds, England

I think the BBC was right to sack Angus Deayton. Not because of any moral reason - morality does not come into it. But because as the host of a satirical show he had become too much of a target himself. A satirical show is supposed to ridicule the foibles and hypocrisy of politicians. The programme has lost its essential bite and essential point if the object of the satire is the presenter himself. If Christine Hamilton can come on the show and feel like she can take the moral high ground over the presenter then all hope is lost.
Claire L, Cheam, UK

His position was made impossible because of Merton and Hislop's attitude

Leontien, The Netherlands
His position was made impossible because of Merton and Hislop's attitude. I don't like changes in a program as good as this, but what about Nick Hancock for a replacement?
Leontien, The Netherlands

If Angus had robbed a bank, I would demand his sacking but to lose his talent because he has privately paid to indulge his private fantasies in a consenting arrangement is sad. The BBC has to accept that this is the 21st century and that people don't pay a huge licence fee to be preached Victorian morals. Reinstate him please!
John Cassidy, UK

I don't disagree with the sacking of Angus Deayton but if the BBC is going to apply this ruling consistently then they could run very short of presenters and soap stars.
Barry, England

Deayton should not have been sacked. Hislop should have been told to cease his self-sanctifying comments. If he had the media "outrage" about Deayton would have died away in time. Please do not even consider Anne Robinson/Christine Hamilton as a replacement - I could do better and would cost far less.
Patricia Lynch, UK

HIGNFY doesn't need Angus Deayton. It was funny for a while whilst the teams had a go at him all the time, but if he carried on it would eventually get tiring and lose its appeal. The BBC has given the show sufficient time to make the most of his situation, now its time for him to go. - Oh, and Andrew Marr should replace him!
Callum Richards, UK

In my opinion, it was Ian Hislop and Paul Merton's comments that got AD sacked. If they hadn't kept returning to the subject, it would have died a death as far as the programme is concerned. Angus was perfect for this programme and I suspect it will go downhill from now on.
Dora Jarr, England

Angus Deayton should stay on

Rosa van Tijn, The Netherlands
Angus Deayton should stay on! If all TV presenters who have ever done drugs or gone to prostitutes were to be fired, we would look at an empty screen every night.
Rosa van Tijn, The Netherlands

Let me get this right, the BBC have sacked him for his 'dubious' recreational activities, but are looking at a convicted drug dealer in Johnny Vaughan to take over. Nothing surprises me these days. Everything is done for show.
Sandy, UK

Would it be ok if he drank lots of alcohol instead? I personally don't care what the man does in his spare time. If everyone who took cocaine in the entertainment business was sacked I don't think there would be many left!
David Jones, UK

Why can't the poor guy be allowed another chance!

Muokwa, UK
If Bill Clinton was involved in a scandal and allowed to continue with his term of office, why can't the poor guy be allowed another chance!
Muokwa, UK

There is cause for concern if the private life of a presenter affects his work. Poor Angus had more ridicule, scrutiny and interrogation than his guests on the last programme. So the BBC were probably right.
Mark Briggs, UK

Paul Merton and Ian Hislop I hope will boycott the show, although it is none of our business what Angus Deayton does in his private life. Do the directors of this show and the BBC not believe like I do that Angus has been already paid the price of any misdemeanours, through the verbal lashing of Ian Hislop and Paul Merton?
Ben Richardson, Toyko, Japan

I think that the BBC are being very hypocritical

Mick Woods, England
I think that the BBC are being very hypocritical. It would appear to be okay to show characters in Eastenders in bed with prostitutes at 7.30, but not for Angus to chair HIGNFY due to doing the same off screen! P.S. Where is the proof?!
Mick Woods, England

I think it's a farce, who cares what Angus is doing! The whole show is about scandals any way! It's the same old people not realizing why the show is so popular! Angus I salute you!
Colza, UK

His personal life is none of our business. He is an excellent presenter and that's what matters. This is a knee jerk reaction by BBC. He should be reinstated immediately!
Anon, UK

I don't believe that he should be sacked for this. At the end of the day he does a fine job presenting HIGNFY and if his private life being splashed across the front pages provides more subject matter for the programme, then brilliant! I think anyone who complains he sets a bad example should maybe be looking a little harder for decent role models; he has never tried to project himself a paragon of virtue unlike many public figures.
Stuart, UK

Anyone taking illegal drugs should not be allowed on TV

Andrew, UK
Anyone who admits or is found to be taking illegal drugs should not be allowed on TV. There is a tacit acceptance or even coolness surrounding drugs, whereas they can be very potentially damaging. The BBC is right to make a stand and they should not spend our licence fees on paying people who so abuse their position of privilege.
Andrew, UK

One of the few things I look forward to is a tape of Have I Got News for You and They Think It's All Over being sent to me from my father in the UK. Angus makes, carries and thrusts the show into your face each week. A show without him? - count me out...
Keith Mole, Australia

Angus Deayton highlighted the crux of this matter when Christine Hamilton, upset at Deayton's attack on her disgraced husband, accused him of hypocrisy. Deayton quickly replied "Yes, but I haven't been banging on about family values for seven years." Exactly. The BBC didn't hire Deayton to deliver moral messages, so why fire him on such grounds? The British tabloids are exercising influence far above their station.
Andy, UK

It makes no sense to sack Deayton just because he's a complete hypocrite - on that basis the BBC should get rid of its entire staff, starting with its journalists.
John Blackburn, UK

HIGNFY is one of the best programmes on British TV and will be ruined by the loss of Angus! I think the level of support for him expressed here should show BBC management that sacking him over gutter-press stories is a big mistake!
Rob Hotton, UK

You have made a big mistake in removing Angus

Mervyn Jackson, England
HIGNFY days must now be numbered without the wit of Angus Deayton. My licence fee pays for me to be entertained, and Angus did that. You have made a big mistake in removing Angus.
Mervyn Jackson, England

I'll miss Angus, he did a good job. However I still feel he should have left the show. Not due to his actions, but I'm sure I was not the only one squirming recently when the focus of the jokes turned to him. How can Angus deride others when they are probably better behaved than him? I can see every guest having a pop at him in the future and that just won't work. No, move on Angus, thanks for the laughs, look forward to seeing you on a different show in the future.
Nik Wickham, England

I'm sorry, who is he supposed to be setting an example for? Children? The man presents a show that airs after 9pm plus I don't think children are that interested in a topical news quiz. This is just another example of how old fashioned and out of touch with the actual world the BBC is. They think that viewers are going to be distressed or even led astray by this very talented man, which is ridiculous.
Neal Murdoch, UK

The whole program should be scrapped; it won't be the same without Angus. Hislop & Merton should have been told to lay off him, I'm sure they are not squeaky clean. The guy was obviously trying to front it out and deserved a chance for having the courage to go back on screen.
Robin Page, England

In a couple of weeks the focus will be on the next 'scandal'. Why sack him?
Mel, USA

There are plenty of people on the BBC's payroll with questionable morals

Richard W , London UK
Deayton is entertaining, that is what he is there for. I do not care about his private life. There are plenty of people on the BBC's payroll with questionable morals. If they played high and mighty with all their employees there would be no Eastenders and no Fame Academy coming at us on BBC One and Choice at every opportune moment.
Richard W , London UK

HIGNFY is one of the few things on TV worth watching, and Angus took the ragging from Ian and Paul with good grace. If the show is to survive, of your list of possible replacements, only Andrew Marr or Stephen Fry has the right combination of intelligence and wit to cope with both the subject matter and Paul and Ian. Please can we have Angus as a regular guest?
Rachel Cave, UK

Absolutely right! The BBC cannot condone illegal drug taking.

Gordon Lewis, UK
Absolutely right! The BBC cannot condone illegal drug taking. I don't think he was the best thing on the show, far from it, and I agree with the vote so far for his replacement. Stephen Fry would be funnier and it's high time we saw more of him on TV.
Gordon Lewis, UK

Oh come on Beeb! To bow to pressure from the tabloid press is unforgivable. Talk about missing the point; the alleged events have made for hilarious viewing. For Angus to take it on the chin as he did from Messrs Merton and Hislop only strengthened his position in my book. What a pathetic decision, the person responsible deserves firing not Deayton.
Helen Moore, England

I am astonished, appalled and dismayed that the BBC has seen fit to give in to tabloid nonsense, and summarily dispense with the service of Angus Deayton from Have I Got News For You. It is not as if he is a moral leader of the community; he is a comedian, and a damn funny one. Please reconsider the situation - if you give in to tabloid "pressure" you will create a monster
Michael Hooton, England

I've got news for you: sacking Angus was shabby. None of your candidates will match up to him sorry.
Mitzi, Belgium

Unfortunately yet another victory to the tabloids

Brian Dunleavy, Dublin, Ireland
Deayton's alleged exploits have made the show even funnier than its normal high standard in recent times - for the BBC to fire him is akin to shooting themselves in both feet. Unfortunately yet another victory to the tabloids and their never-ending quest to ruin people so they can sell another paper.
Brian Dunleavy, Dublin, Ireland

Angus Deayton IS Have I Got News For You. Fire Angus? You just fired the whole show you fools. I for one won't be watching anymore.
Ian Sherwood, UK

Of course Deayton had to go! For him to continue taking the mickey out of other celebrities makes him look like a complete hypocrite and the programme falls flat on its face. We could all see, by his comments in the last programme, that Paul Merton thought he should resign. I agree!
Mike Wood, UK

Publicity is everything

Dave, Tiptree, UK
Anyone who chooses to work in show business is always in the public eye. Therefore, whatever they get up to in their private lives should make them responsible for their actions in public. As far as the BBC is concerned, publicity is everything, and to have a presenter that causes bad publicity is not only detrimental, but in the case of Deayton is immoral and should not be tolerated. I totally agree with his sacking.
Dave, Tiptree, UK

Have I Got News - without Angus Deayton - I don't think so!
Bill Moss, England

Yet again the Beeb ruin another good programme - what's it matter what he got up to in private? Is this another case of trial by media?
Nick Eve, England

Can I ask have any of the things that he has been said to have done been proven? So are the BBC judging him guilty before any trial and he has been sacked because of rumour? That is not a good precedent to set.
Donna Hutchings, England

If he were the presenter of Blue Peter or any other kids' programme, then maybe I could understand it, but it's a hard hitting adult programme. The BBC should just grow up and leave the guy in peace - it's not as if there's a victim in his 'crime'...
Steve, UK

HIGNFY is about the only BBC show I watch. Needless to say I won't be watching it in future unless Angus is reinstated.
Steve, UK

I think it's hilarious! Why did you have to go and fire him - it's not exactly that shocking!
Vince Lockyer, UK

I hope Paul Merton and Ian Hislop will refuse to do the show in protest for this. It's ridiculous that some allegations in the tabloids can result in someone losing their job.
Paul, England

I don't think you can put a hard and fast rule in place about this. What would finish the career of one presenter may add to the renown of another and increase his/her popularity.
John Barker, UK

Who cares what he gets up to in his private life? Let him get on with his job, I'm sure he's already facing enough pressure from his partner. What's the big deal?
Dave, UK

When I'm paying my licence fee to pay his wages, I have every right to know if he's blowing it all on drugs and prostitutes.
Steve J, UK

I don't believe any of this should affect his employment status

Guy Clapperton, UK
Deayton isn't paid to set an example; he's paid to hold a funny programme together. This he does admirably and OK, he's hit the headlines and dominated a news-based programme for one week on two occasions; that's two out of how many? The women are a matter between him and his partner, and the drug allegations are a police matter if they're serious and a conscience matter if not. I don't believe any of this should affect his employment status.
Guy Clapperton, UK

Whilst I don't condone what Angus Deayton has done, he should not be sacked for it. None of us is whiter than white, and our personal choices should not impact on our professional life. Personally I couldn't care less what he does off screen. For some reason the red-top papers think it's more newsworthy. It isn't. Give the guy a break; he is good at what he does. That is what should matter, not what the News of the World thinks!
Ross Feeney, England

He has set a very bad example

Simon Poole, UK
Some people are getting confused what an entertainer should be. He has taken class A drugs and therefore should be taken off the television. He has set a very bad example.
Simon Poole, UK

I disapprove strongly of Angus Deayton's reported behaviour but it is his business and not mine. He may be a loser in his private life but he is a great entertainer and should be allowed to continue with his livelihood. However, if his behaviour threatens the livelihoods of the scores of other people who work on the show, both in front of and behind the camera, then he must go. They should not suffer because of his degenerate lifestyle.
Nigel Slade, United Kingdom

Who cares what he does in private. All that matters is how entertaining he is as a presenter and comedian. Talented people have always lived close to the edge, whether they are politicians, musicians, writers or comedians. If we want zero scandal, then let's demand zero talent as well. So, grow up everyone and get on with life!
Michael Adam, UK

It's little to do with Deayton's exploits; it's because Have I Got News for You is no longer funny. It's not all Deayton's fault, though the cut has gone from his remarks as the image has been tarnished. Ian Hislop increasingly sounds like an old fogey. Only Paul Merton manages to retain any freshness. Time to pull the plug.
Barry B, UK

This scandal adds to the humour

Nicola Fern, Scotland
I think this scandal adds to the humour of the programme. Besides, don't you think that being lampooned by Paul Merton and Ian Hislop is enough punishment?
Nicola Fern, Scotland

Yes it's fun to see him take it all from Hislop and Merton but drug taking is illegal - why is he not on remand and so unable to be in the show? Do celebs have different laws from us?
R Blake, UK

I'd understand it if he presented Songs of Praise, but this will only increase interest in HIGNFY. Let him stay.
Alan, UK

One of the requirements for celebrity is a touch of exhibitionism and if you make a spectacle of yourself, you can't get upset when people want to gawk. It's not as though these people are being intruded upon when they are having a quiet dinner in their homes. They get caught going to prostitutes and doing cocaine and having enormous benders. I'd say it serves them right, and it goes with the territory.
Amber, US

He is as bad as some of the politicians he is hired to take the mickey out of! I think he should leave Have I Got News For You and perhaps move to They Think It's All Over...
Stephanie, UK

We like our stars to live outrageous lives

James, UK
We like our stars to live outrageous lives. These days far too many stars are teetotal, vegetarian Scientologists. Long live the likes of Keith Richards and Liam Gallagher.
James, UK

Is he entertaining? That's important. Is he an angel? That's not important. After all, his programme occurs well after the watershed and is watched by a sophisticated public who are probably getting up to worse things than he is.
Matthew, UK

Who he has sex with and what he puts up his nose are irrelevant to how well he presents what is a quite close-to-the-bone show. Perhaps the private lives of News of the World journos should be subjected to the same scrutiny.
Stewart, Scotland

My licence fee helps support a lifestyle I don't agree with

Graeme, UK
I am a great fan of Have I Got News For You and admire Angus Deayton's wit and his (lately much-needed) ability to laugh at himself as well as at his many victims. But the bottom line is that my licence fee helps to pay his salary and support a lifestyle I don't agree with (drugs and dishonesty within relationships). Everyone working for the BBC is an ambassador to its public and I don't think Angus is doing a good job of it anymore - and he should go. Sorry, Angus!
Graeme, UK

I despise the tabloids for their muck racking and their cheerful destruction of lives in their quest for more copies sold. Mr Deayton is a talented and funny entertainer and the airwaves will be a much poorer place without him. Please let the man work.
Peter Hubbard, UK

All people should have the right to a private life. Maybe now, with broadcasters and journalists being targeted by their colleagues, the various media will decide that discretion is the better part of valour and stop the scandals - after all, it could be their turn next to have their lives ruined by revelations of their private lives.
Eddie Dubourg, Scotland

Deayton has gone up in my estimation with his exploits. What a lad!
Nick Toye, UK

Should the BBC have sacked Angus Deayton?



10122 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

30 Oct 02 | Entertainment
24 May 02 | UK
30 Oct 02 | Entertainment
30 Nov 98 | Entertainment
11 Oct 01 | Entertainment
27 Jan 02 | Entertainment
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