BBC host Vanessa Feltz ‘absolutely horrified’ by contents of Dyson report

BBC presenter Vanessa Feltz says she is “absolutely horrified” by the Panorama interview scandal, but hopes the broadcaster’s work during the pandemic proves it is still a valuable institution.

Lord Dyson’s blistering report criticised the methods journalist Martin Bashir used to secure his bombshell 1995 interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.

Feltz was speaking ahead of the Audio and Radio Industry Awards (Arias), where her breakfast show for BBC Radio London is nominated for best speech breakfast show.

Lord Dyson – Bashir report
Martin Bashir (Ian West/PA)

The 59-year-old told the PA news agency: “I have worked for the BBC for about 32 years on and off. I am absolutely horrified. I am devastated.

“It feels very personal because you feel that, especially in a year like this, you are doing your utmost to provide balance and information and integrity and education, to help people through this extraordinary and shocking predicament that nobody really knew how to navigate.

“You don’t want some sort of salvo from 25 years ago to pollute all the good work we are all doing. So I was absolutely devastated.

“Plus, I was an enormous admirer of Princess Diana so the idea she might have suffered more than she was already suffering is horrible to me.

“So I am really heartbroken and very upset to hear it.”

Feltz, who also regularly sits in for Sara Cox and for Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2, said viewers should be reassured by the good work done by the BBC during the pandemic.

She said: “Events like this do show it. The BBC is an enormous institution, a vast edifice making programmes of all different kinds for countries all over the world – on television, on radio, on social media, on BBC Sounds and everywhere else.

Audio and Radio Industry Awards
Hosts Jordan Banjo and Perri Kiely arriving for the Audio and Radio Industry Awards (Aaron Chown/PA)

“Most people are doing a diligent, imaginative, innovative, conscientious job, and really the vast majority of people are honourable.

“The whole point of it is to inform, educate and entertain. I hope that is what most of us are doing. That’s what I aim to do.

“That’s why it is very personally upsetting because you just think, ‘Gosh, all the people I know so well, all the people I don’t know but admire, all the people who really strive to do their very best’.

“And you just think it is absolutely heartbreaking. I do hope there is so much more to the BBC than this story and then we can move on beyond it.”

BBC Radio 1 presenter Clara Amfo, Love Island host Laura Whitmore and punk rocker Yungblud are also among the nominees at the Arias.

This year’s shortlist also features radio hosts Zoe Ball and Chris Evans, Steve Coogan’s fictional broadcaster Alan Partridge, former footballer and pundit Ian Wright and rapper George The Poet.

Celebrating audio and radio across 25 categories, the Arias are hosted by Kiss presenters Jordan Banjo and Perri Kiely.