Breakfast host axed as part of BBC budget cuts

This Is Wiltshire: Graham Mack, left, and Gavin Jones playing in the Graham Mack Rock Band during the St George's Day celebrations in the town centre last year Graham Mack, left, and Gavin Jones playing in the Graham Mack Rock Band during the St George's Day celebrations in the town centre last year

BBC Wiltshire breakfast show presenter Graham Mack has been axed without warning as part of the corporation’s 20 per cent budget cuts.

The Adver understands the 49-year-old was called in by bosses a day before he was due to go on holiday and told he had done his last show at the station. Friends said he is upset at not being given a chance to say goodbye on air to listeners in the town.

His contract with the BBC does not end until February next year but it is thought he will not be working for the corporation again in that time. He is now on holiday in America and New Zealand with his wife.

BBC Wiltshire managing editor Tony Worgan has refused to comment on the presenter’s departure.

His Swindon show will be replaced on November 5 by a county-wide show presented by Ben Prater, who will transfer from BBC Radio Bristol.

As part of the BBC’s Delivering Quality First proposals, it was announced in October 2011 that split breakfast programmes in BBC English Regions in Devon, Cambridge, Wiltshire and Three Counties would cease.

At BBC Wiltshire, the Swindon Breakfast Show and the Wiltshire Breakfast Show, which covers the rest of Wiltshire, will be combined into one new show, presented by Ben, who started in radio in 1998 and currently presents Drive on BBC Radio Bristol.

Wiltshire show presenter Matthew Smith will continue in the role until November 5 and will be kept on at BBC Wiltshire in another capacity.

Graham studied at the Australian Film, Television And Radio School, and has spanned both Australia and the UK, presenting late night call-in shows on community radio, drivetime music shows on commercial stations and then the breakfast talk show on the BBC.

“For me I just absolutely love radio. It’s not the medium, it’s being able to talk to people and hear their stories,” he told the Adver in 2010.

“It sounds cheesy but the best bits are when you can help someone. I don’t want to go back to music radio. For me, it’s about people and their stories, not the latest chart hit.

During his time in Swindon Graham also formed the Graham Mack Rock Band with the Swindon Council chief executive, Gavin Jones. It has raised more than £15,000 for charities in the town, including Wiltshire Air Ambulance, Goldenhar Syndrome, Lights For Learning, Swindon Carers, Prospect Hos-pice, and Willows Counselling Service.

Mr Jones said: “It’s unfortunate we have a breakfast show with Wiltshire and Swindon now. I can understand why the BBC has done it. “I just hope that Swindon still gets the coverage it needs and deserves. But Graham is certainly a good character on the radio. he’s lively, he’s engaging, he gets people talking so that will be missed.

“I know he wants to stay in radio, I know that because that’s his love. He could go anywhere in the world. He has worked before in Australia and New Zealand.”

Ben said of his new job: “Opportunities like this are rare and to be offered the chance to present a show like this in the part of the world I know and love is a dream come true.”

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