BBC adds Question Time show with Reform after Farage complaints over exclusion

BBC adds Question Time show with Reform after Farage complaints over exclusion

The BBC will allow Reform UK to take part in an extra Question Time leaders’ special after Nigel Farage complained about being excluded from the programme.

The broadcaster has added an additional Question Time to its election coverage to reflect “the fact that it is clear from across a broad range of opinion polls that the support for Reform UK has been growing”.

Mr Farage had demanded a spot on the BBC’s main four-way leaders’ debate panel, which Fiona Bruce will host this Thursday.

The two-hour programme is set to feature the leaders of Great Britain’s four largest political parties – the Tories, Labour, SNP and Liberal Democrats.

The Reform UK leader last week said the broadcaster should feature him in the line-up after an opinion poll put his party ahead of the Conservatives.

On Tuesday, the BBC announced it will add a Question Time leaders’ special featuring representatives from Reform UK and the Green Party, to be broadcast on the evening of June 28 with Bruce as host.

Mr Farage said he was “pleased” the BBC “acknowledge” the rising support for his party, while renewing his demand to be included in the broadcaster’s June 26 head-to-head debate between Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

The arch Brexiteer, who has previously had his own shows on LBC and GB News – and starred in last year’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, has argued that Reform UK’s climbing poll ratings should earn him more media attention.

He tweeted: “I am pleased that the BBC acknowledge that support for Reform UK has been growing in this election.

“We must now be included in the head-to-head debate with Sunak and Starmer on June 26th.”

Meanwhile, a high-profile Panorama interview with Mr Farage has been rescheduled for 7pm on Friday, June 21.

The grilling by journalist Nick Robinson was originally planned for last week, but the BBC said it had been “postponed for logistical reasons”.

It came after Reform was embroiled in a row following a claim by one of its candidates that Britain should have “taken Hitler up on his offer of neutrality”.

Other leaders being interviewed by veteran inquisitor Robinson are Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay – airing on June 24, and Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey – to be broadcast on June 28.

The Panorama series has already featured Labour’s Sir Keir, Plaid Cymru’s Rhun ap Iorwerth, the SNP’s John Swinney and Conservative Prime Minister Mr Sunak.

On the additional Question Time slot, the BBC said: “This added programme, and the changed peak-time scheduling slot for the Panorama interview, reflects the fact that it is clear from across a broad range of opinion polls that the support for Reform UK has been growing. As a public service broadcaster the BBC recognises that the policies and proposals of the party deserve scrutiny at a time convenient for mass audiences.

“In the interests of fairness we have offered the same scheduling opportunity to the Green Party.”

Based on the number of House of Commons seats before a General Election was called, the Conservatives had a majority, ahead of Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats.

Reform UK had just one MP with Lee Anderson, in the Nottinghamshire constituency of Ashfield.