Radio presenter Danny Baker has left his BBC London afternoon show, after being told by corporation bosses it would be axed at the end of the year – an option the host chose not to take up, instead announcing his immediate departure on-air in an incendiary farewell programme.
Baker announced the cancellation via Twitter (@prodnose) this morning: “Just been told the BBC London Show – the Treehouse – is to be shut down after all. Saves BBC money apparently… We dwell amid pinheaded weasels who know only [the] timid, the generic and the abacus.”
He included a link to a video promo for Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe’s show, presumably to make the point that there are other areas where he feels the BBC could make savings.
Baker claimed the BBC had asked him not to share the news, tweeting: “BBC asked me not to say anything just yet about axing best show on British Radio. Why? Because it’s embarrassing? Because they’ll look bad?”
The BBC said Baker was “still very much part of the BBC”, citing his Saturday show on 5 Live, which is unaffected. But it confirmed that Baker would be leaving his afternoon slot “at the end of the year”.
This afternoon, though, the DJ took matters into his own hands, saying today’s show would be his last.
“As you may have heard, this show has been cancelled by the BBC,” said Baker, having opened with Queen’s Radio Gaga and the sound of fireworks. “I found out. Nobody from the station rang me… why would they? It’s not professional to phone someone who’s carried the station on his back.”
Baker, who pointed out the irony of having been told his show was to shut down just days before he is to take his place in the Radio Academy Hall of Fame, said BBC bosses did not understand the appeal of his eclectic phone-in show: “They have no idea what this show does for Londoners. Rarely do I think a show brings a community together [but] I’ve heard people say it about this programme. It’s been an honour, it’s been a privilege. Thank you.”
The presenter made reference to his sidekicks Amy Lame and Baylen Leonard, revealing to his listeners how much they are paid: “Baylen and Amy get £50 for doing this programme. Fifty quid. I think it’s fair to say that Jimmy Savile was paid more by the BBC in six months than Baylen and Amy have earned in the ten years we’ve been together.
“A bit too much financial information for you? Well, we’re happy to stand aside for your abacuses, cos that’s what it’s about, but shame on you for what you’ve done to my two co-hosts… I hope whoever is responsible has their abacus come undone and they choke on the very beads.”
“Community? London? You weasels wouldn’t know the meaning of the words.”
“We don’t want to leave,” Baker told listeners as the programme drew to a close, “but we’ve been told to leave by people we’ve never met who don’t listen to the show and certainly don’t listen to you.
“So thank you very much and wherever you are now… everybody should applaud right now.”
Perhaps surprisingly, at the time of writing the entire show is available on iPlayer, the BBC’s catch-up service. The programme page is headed: “The final instalment – the Treehouse gets the chop.” Choice excerpts have also been uploaded by a listener to the audio sharing site Audioboo.
The BBC denied that Baker had been axed to save money: “The decision wasn’t driven by savings,” a spokesperson said. “All stations from time to time refresh their schedules and this is no different. We’ve been talking to Danny Baker’s agent about a weekly programme.”
As the news broke this morning, celebrity fans of Baker’s programme – many of them also BBC employees – leapt to his defence.
Rob Brydon (@RobBrydon) tweeted, with a generous does of sarcasm: “Glad that BBC are axing Danny Baker’s daily radio show. I’ve had it up to here with his wit, warmth and originality.” Fellow comedian Ross Noble (@realrossnoble) asked: “How can the BBC axe our greatest radio talent… after recent events they should be celebrating what they do well.”
Stephen Fry said: “Next week @prodnose is inducted into Radio Academy Hall of fame. Not surprising, he’s the best. Today the BBC are axing his show. Dickwits.”
And BBC sports presenter Gabby Logan (@Gabby_Logan) called for a campaign to save Baker’s show: “We saved 6music now we must save @prodnose – who is in charge? I nominate you @EmmaK67?”
Having returned home after the show, Baker appeared again on Twitter and continued to criticise BBC management. “Trouble is dim bulbs in middle management – and be fair middle management is dim bulb Vegas – cannot bear anyone who doesn’t fall in line with their tiny local paper world view,” he wrote. “BBC London think radio is about sending reporters out on double decker bus to hear people’s problems.
“In the main they are dull ex-university types who are ‘fascinated’ by what they think of as ‘real’ people,” he went on. “Meetings are how they view ‘work’. Being [the] LEAST necessary people to shows, they’ve created a culture whereby they are the MOST vital. Far more meeting rooms than studios at BBC.”
Baker presented his first show on BBC London back in 2001. He was named speech radio personality of the year at this year’s Sony Radio Academy Awards.
Last October, Baker claimed via Twitter that his show had been axed as part of the BBC’s Delivering Quality First cost-cutting initiative, but the cancellation did not then take place.
The BBC confirmed that Baker will not present his BBC London show on Friday afternoon. “Danny’s decided to take a day off,” their spokesperson said. “Gary Crowley will be standing in for him.”