Melvyn Bragg regrets not ‘having ITV’ for ‘unfair dismissal’ over The South Bank Show end
30th November 2020

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In 1978 ITV debuted The South Bank Show, a program that focused on theatre, TV, music and other forms of entertainment, celebrating the rich history of the arts in Britain. The interview show was hosted by longtime presenter Melvyn Bragg, but after it was cancelled in 2009 he’s now revealed he “should have had” the broadcaster for “unfair dismissal”.

I should have made a stand. I should have had them for unfair dismissal

Melvyn Bragg

Bragg stated it was a “very, very bad decision” made by ITV’s director of television Peter Fincham, who ended the three-decade run.

According to the presenter, Fincham told him it had come down to “a blip in advertising”.

“At first, I thought he was saying they wanted to cut the budget down to 80 per cent and I said, ‘Well, that’s going to be hard to do,'” Bragg recalled.

“Then I realised he meant reduce by 80 per cent!”

Believing he let ITV “off the hook” 11-years ago, Bragg looked back: “It was silly of me,” he said.

“I should have made a stand. I should have had them for unfair dismissal.” have approached ITV for comment.

The South Bank Show is now safely under the wing of Sky Arts, after Bragg pitched it to them at an awards show.

But looking back at his star-studded interview line-up over the years, he admitted he could have branched out more.

“I didn’t do enough women,” he revealed his regret after recalling chatting with Norman Mailer, Laurence Olivier, David Hockney.

“I did quite a lot, like Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, but I should have done more.”

He’s gone some way to address his past regrets, featuring The Crown actress Gillian Anderson and Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo, on the most recent series which has gone free-to-air and for the first time since 2009.

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And keeping his show alive has also helped him deal with his own mental health, after revealing he suffered bouts of depression throughout his teens.

“I’ve had bad depression once when I was 13 or 14, then another at the end of my 20s,” he told Radio Times.

“I was in such a mess, in about six or seven different ways.”

While his beloved North Country helped somewhat curb that with long walks, looking forward to talking to inspirational people also prolonged his purpose.

Bragg’s full interview is available to read now in Radio Times [RADIO TIMES]

“Where I come from people at 65 were knackered. They retired, then, after two years, clunk! That’s changed,” he said.

“I don’t get up in the morning and think, ‘Oh hell,’ or, ‘I’m tired out.’

“I think, ‘Oh, good, I’m going to talk to Bernardine Evaristo or Benjamin Zephaniah [the subject of this Sunday’s programme].’”

Bragg’s full interview is available to read now in Radio Times.

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