The BBC was forced to edit its flagship radio show ‘Any Questions?’ after Jonathan Dimbleby falsely claimed a town was cursed with social problems and poverty.
The Radio 4 show was being broadcast from a school in Haverhill, Suffolk, when host Dimbleby made the gaffe live on air on Friday November 23.
He said the town had high rates of “unemployment and poverty” when recent figures actually show Haverhill is little more than two thirds of the national average.
Following complaints from town officials the BBC deleted the offending line for the show’s repeat the following day.
Mr Dimbleby opened the panel show by saying Haverhill was developed from an old market town to resettle “communities devastated by World War II.”
He told the audience of 300,000 listeners: “It has obviously moved on since then, but it still has more than its fair share of social problems.
“Somewhat isolated in the absence of a train station, it suffers from high rates of unemployment and poverty.”
The BBC where unable to explain where they had sourced the information.
A spokesman for the BBC said: “In drawing attention to the achievements of the school, Jonathan Dimbleby’s introduction somewhat overstated the economic challenges facing the town of Haverhill.
“It was pointed out to us immediately after the live broadcast and we took appropriate steps to ensure the Saturday repeat edition of Any Questions was amended accordingly.”
Local Tory MP Matthew Hancock said: “I assumed they’d got the wrong town, as Haverhill is a town on the up, with falling unemployment below the national average.
“I’ve represented Haverhill for coming on three years and as long as I’ve known the town I’ve known it as vibrant, ambitious and going places.
“I noticed the BBC recognised their mistake and rectified it for the Saturday repeat, which apparently draws bigger audiences anyway.”