Vodafone DENIES it has pulled advertising from GB News

Vodafone ‘U-turns over GB News boycott’ with insiders blaming an overzealous social media executive for joining pile-on – as channel’s boss Andrew Neil says HE will cancel businesses who pulled adverts

  • Vodafone sources blames overzealous social media worker for saying ads issue ‘would be addressed’ 
  • Co-op defended the ‘editorial independence’ of the media as it stood firm amid calls to suspend campaigns 
  • Andrew Neil hits out at IKEA and its ‘snooping’ former boss after adverts row sees big businesses pulling ads 
  • GB News pledges to do news differently, cover stories ignored by rivals and be pro-British and anti-woke
  • At least 7 companies including IKEA and Nivea have pulled adverts from channel just four days after its launch
  • Critics have branded them hypocritical and woke and called on Britons to start boycotting their products 
  • ‘Sinister’ campaign group Stop Funding Hate is using social media to pile pressure on GB News advertisers  

Vodafone today reportedly U-turned on its boycott of GB News with an overzealous social media executive blamed for bowing to left-wing pressure groups as the channel’s boss Andrew Neil threatened to cancel businesses who pulled their adverts this week but try to return as ratings soar.

The mobile phone giant and other corporations were targeted by Stop Funding Hate supporters who are plotting to bring down the nascent channel that promises to be anti-woke, pro-British and cover more stories from outside London.

IKEA, Nivea, Kopparberg, Grolsch, the Open University, Octopus Energy, Ovo Energy and insurer LV have pulled their adverts from Andrew Neil’s new channel since it launched on Sunday.

Last night anti-GB News protesters hailed ‘good news’ after Vodafone’s official account tweeted that ‘advertising [with GB News] has been placed without our permission’, adding the business would be ‘addressing this’.

But a company source has told Guido Fawkes that they have ‘no intention of boycotting’ and a social media person had made a decision ‘way above their station’, pointing out that GB News is regulated by broadcasting watchdog Ofcom. MailOnline has has asked Vodafone to comment.

Last year a social media intern at the Co-op declared the business would no longer be advertising with Mr Neil’s Spectator magazine, which turned out not to be true.

Today the Co-op decided to fight back against left-wing calls for companies to suspend advertising for GB News, saying the would advertise where they like defended the ‘editorial independence’ of the media.

And last night Andrew Neil was involved in a Twitter row with Octopus Energy’s boss Greg Jackson, who were among those who pulled its adverts. In an extraordinary exchange Mr Neil threatened to cancel his company if they wanted to advertise with them again.

Mr Neil told him: ‘Have a look at our content. You’ll find no hate. Let me know if you want to advertise. And I’ll let you know if we want your ads. Or whether we organise a boycott of you’. He added: ‘I resent even the thought that a channel of which I was chairman would peddle hate. You should know better’.

Mr Jackson hit back saying: ‘We didn’t boycott – I wanted to see the channel and am true to my word’, saying he watched Rishi Sunak’s interview last night. 

As GB News finds itself at the centre of the UK’s culture war, it also emerged today:

  • Children’s author Enid Blighton’s work is ‘racist, xenophobic and lacking literary merit’ says English Heritage in ‘re-appraisal’ sparked by Black Lives Matter protests;
  • The hatred of the Stop Funding Hate fanatics is revealed as they vilified GB News for its content even before it launched; 

Andrew Neil (pictured on the channel last night) threatened to cancel businesses who pulled ads having falsely accused the channel of spreading hate – including Octopus Energy run by Greg Jackson

Mr Neil took Octopus Energy boss Greg Jackson to task saying he resented any claims GB News would peddle hate

After being bombarded by activists demanding it suspend its TV campaigns on GB News, the supermarket responded on Twitter

At lunchtime yesterday, the Co-op was contacted via Twitter by ‘Paul’, an avid supporter of Stop Funding Hate’s campaign against GB News.

Claiming the new TV station is ‘designed to create division and demonise’ people, he declared that, unless the supermarket immediately ceased advertising there, ‘I will not spend any more of my hard-earned cash in your stores’.

‘Paul’ did not bother to cite any evidence of actual malpractice by GB News. But he’s certainly an expert on creating division and demonising people.

For his anonymous Twitter account, which boasts nearly 1,000 followers and uses the handle @pafo1972, turns out to be dedicated to campaigning against Brexit, which he dubs ‘self-destruction in the name of small mindedness and empty nationalism’.

In keeping with this world view, he recently used the social network to contact Nigel Farage, saying: ‘What a poisonous lump of filth this w***** really is.’

He has also called the Conservatives ‘a filthy party of far-Right scum’, dubbed the Tory MP Andrew Bridgen an ‘oxygen thief’ and declared Priti Patel to be a ‘vile character’.

While the organisation claims to be ‘making hate unprofitable’, its business model instead revolves around using hashtag campaigns to empower a small army of Left-wing cranks to further their own highly partisan political agenda.

What’s more, many of its foot soldiers, who preach so earnestly about battling prejudice, turn out to be very prejudiced indeed.

Take Sam Hill, a Corbynist who tweets as @witshituk.

On Sunday afternoon, he pledged to compile a ‘boycott list’ of companies whose commercials appeared on the network, urging followers to ‘boycott every advertiser willing to support this toxic propaganda’.

There was but one problem: when he first posted that tweet, GB News had not broadcast a single programme. In other words, he was assuming that its output would be ‘toxic’ without having actually seen it!

But Mr Hill is nothing if not accustomed to nasty propaganda.

Last year, he called MPs John Redwood and Oliver Letwin ‘Tory Scum’, and used Twitter to mount a vicious attack on Rachel Riley.

The Jewish Countdown presenter’s criticism of anti-Semitism in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party sparked a deeply misogynistic social media pile-on from the hard-Left.

Mr Hill called her a ‘vile human being’ who ‘should have stuck to maths’. More recently, this supposedly principled supporter of Stop Funding Hate was using the bully pulpit of Twitter to declare the Labour Party to be ‘morally bankrupt’ under the leadership of Sir Keir Starmer, a ‘deeply dishonest and corrupt person’ who he dubbed ‘Tory scum’.

Other leading lights in the lobby group’s online brigade of culture warriors include Will Black, a Cambridge-based writer and social anthropologist who this week dubbed GB News ‘gammon b******* news’.

Last year he went on social media to dub Tory MP Michael Fabricant ‘Fabric***’ and called Nigel Farage a ‘drunk’.

More recently, in the immediate aftermath of Prince Philip’s death, he charmingly described the late royal as ‘a man who travelled the world on taxpayers money to be racist and vile to all and sundry’.

Then there is Anthony Gladman, a beer writer who this week used Twitter to ask energy firm Ovo to boycott GB News on the grounds that it was propagating hate. Not long ago, he was the one propagating hate, using Twitter to call Boris Johnson a ‘vile treacherous charlatan’ and a ‘f****** liar’.

A number of big name brands including IKEA, Nivea, Kopparberg, Grolsch, the Open University, Octopus Energy, Ovo Energy and insurer LV have pulled their adverts from Andrew Neil’s new channel after an online campaign led by groups including Stop Funding Hate.

MPs, free speech campaigners and business leaders branded the companies ‘anti-democratic’ and ‘hypocritical’, with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden declaring businesses ‘must not succumb to pressure groups’.

But Co-op has broken rank despite a huge online backlash, saying it will continue to advertise on the new TV channel, the first company to do so.

After being bombarded by activists demanding it suspend its TV campaigns on GB News, the supermarket responded: ‘Our advertising approach has three principles. 

‘We will, one – not seek to affect the editorial independence of publications or channels, two – not undermine the commercial value of our society for our members, and three, ensure our values and principles are clear regardless of surrounding content.’

The response prompted a number of critics to call for a boycott of Co-op while many others praised it for standing up for its principles amid the furore. 

GB News launched on Sunday promising to be anti-woke, pro-British and cover stories differently to rivals, with prime time shows already enjoying more viewers than BBC News and Sky News. 

But after just four days on air at least seven big businesses have pulled their adverts after a social media campaign whipped up by Stop Funding Hate.

A website BoycottGBNews.org has also been set up with the help of a business called ‘Ripples Campaigning’, which is run by former BBC senior content producer Louise Wikstrom whose social media posts have previously backed Labour and Jeremy Corbyn.

She told MailOnline: ‘Ripples is proud to take a stand against biased news through this campaign, together with thousands of supporters who have written to GB News’ advertisers to make their voices heard.’

But the Culture Secretary appealed for companies to not bow to the pressures of online mobs.

Mr Dowden told the Mail: ‘One of the cornerstones of our liberties is our robust, free and diverse media and GB News is a welcome addition to that diversity.

‘As we’ve seen this week with the totally unacceptable harassment of a BBC journalist, we cannot take it for granted. It is up to brands to advertise where they wish, but it would be worrying if they allow themselves to succumb to pressure groups.

‘They should note that GB News is regulated by Ofcom and held to the same high standards as every other broadcaster in the UK.’

Tory MP Craig Mackinlay branded the ad boycott of GB News as ‘unbelievable’ and ‘mad’, pledging to fight back against those businesses. He told MailOnline: ‘I am now putting together a list of beers and household products that I will not be buying. This is all part of the closing down of free speech campaign which I am afraid we are seeing across our society. It must be resisted. It is an absolute abomination’.

Stop Funding Hate: The band of left-wing zealots led by a Corbynista and a professional cat-sitter trying to gag GB News

Stop Funding Hate claims it is ‘not linked to, or aligned to, any political party’ — and claims to ‘have supporters from a wide range of backgrounds and political viewpoints’.

But its campaigns only tend to be against newspapers which endorsed the Tories and now it has its sights on GB News.

Unsurprisingly, in this context, its founder Richard Wilson supported both the Remain campaign and Jeremy Corbyn.

Stop Funding Hate insist its campaign is ‘all about polite and friendly customer engagement’ and, to be fair, the social media messages sent on its behalf to advertisers are usually reasonable in tone.

But many of those who targeting businesses have used the internet on other occasions to troll politicians, journalists, celebrities and other public figures — while also spreading vile slurs about political groups they despise.

Commonly social media users will approach companies and send repeated messages to them saying they will cancel or boycott them unless they distance themselves from media businesses they don’t like. 

These are Stop Funding Hate’s four board members:

Richard Wilson

The group’s founder, writer and NGO worker Richard Wilson, supported both the Remain campaign and Jeremy Corbyn.  

He has ‘liked’ or endorsed Facebook groups supporting the ‘Council of Europe’, ‘New Europeans’, ‘Better In than Out’, ‘I’m Voting Remain,’ ‘UKtoStay’, ‘Campaign to Remain’, ‘We are the 48’, ‘Environmentalists for Europe,’ ‘Scientists for EU’ and ‘Jeremy Corbyn for PM’.

He’s also ‘liked’ the misleadingly named Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, which supports the anti-newspaper lobbyists Hacked Off.

He has run a campaign against the Daily Mail, but has been more than happy to accept money from associating with the Mail in the past.  In 2006, when a book he wrote about the murder of his sister in Africa was published, serialisation rights were sold to the Mail for £1,000.

Rosey Ellum 

A second senior Stop Funding Hate figure is Rosey Ellum, who, in 2016, came up with the idea of founding the organisation at a dinner party attended by Wilson. 

A vegan in her thirties, an NGO worker and a professional cat-sitter, she divides her political allegiances between Labour and the Green Party.

Her Facebook ‘likes’ include ‘Women against UKIP’, ‘The struggling Vegan’. ‘Hackney Greens’, ‘Fat Gay Vegan’, ‘Sassy Socialist Memes’, ‘Womens Equality Party’ ‘John McDonnell’, ‘Tower Hamlets Green Party’ and ‘Jeremy Corbyn for PM’.

On the morning of the 2015 Conservative election victory, Ellum declared on Twitter: ‘So sad and depressed today. For selfish reasons and for people worse off than me. We’ll keep fighting the good fight!’ She’s also campaigned against what she calls Israel’s ‘illegal occupation of Palestine’, using Twitter to share petitions on behalf of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which counts Corbyn among its patrons.

Colin Baines

According to the Stop Funding Hate website, Colin Baines is an Investment Engagement Manager at the Friends Provident Foundation and previously was an Ethics Adviser and Campaigns Manager at the Co-op Bank and Co-op Group.  

Alexandra Parsons

Alexandra Parsons has worked in the charity and voluntary sectors for 16 years. 

She is also an academic specialising in researching cultural responses to the HIV/AIDS crisis, and teaches gender and sexuality studies and literature at University College London. 

She currently manages the Public Engagement Fund at Wellcome Trust, and formerly worked for organisations including British Red Cross and Child Poverty Action Group.  

He added: ‘Corporates should do what they do – sell things rather than get involved with political debates.’

Fellow Conservative backbencher Andrew Bridgen said: ‘This epitomises exactly what GB News was set up to counter. The hard woke left wingers are seeking to cancel voices saying things they don’t approve of. Advertisers should do well to look at the viewing figures and remember that those who complain most on social media do not represent the mainstream view’.   

Tory MP Andrew Percy said: ‘It’s completely anti-democratic and an attempt to silence alternative views. The UK has strict media rules which GB News is abiding by. If it’s good enough for the UK regulators, it should be good enough for the advertisers. These advertisers are essentially giving in to bullying by the mob.’

Dragons Den star Duncan Bannatyne told MailOnline he was ‘shocked’ at the hasty decision made by big businesses to pull adverts from GB News – just four days after a very successful launch.

The tycoon said that he would consider advertising his Bannatyne’s health clubs and gyms on the news channel because of its ‘great viewing figures’. Slamming the cancel culture he said: ‘I am just shocked that such big organisations would cancel on a new untested TV news show. Competition is good for all businesses and TV shows need competition, so should be supported’.  He added: ‘I will never shop at IKEA again – oh just a minute, I never did shop there anyway’.

Trade unionist and journalist Paul Embery tweeted: ‘Stop Funding Hate is a sinister group whose ultimate aim is to prevent the dissemination of opinions with which they disagree. Don’t let anyone pretend otherwise’.

GB News chairman Andrew Neil has also hit back at IKEA and its ‘criminal’ former French boss Jean-Louis Baillot. He said: ‘IKEA has decided to boycott GB News because of our alleged values. Here are IKEA’s values — a French CEO who is a criminal with a two year suspended jail sentence for spying on staff’. 

The news also sparked a consumer backlash today, with one viewer writing: ‘I’ve just completed my IKEA shelving unit. It’s a bit shakey, has no real backbone to it and it definitely leans hard to the left. #BoycottIkea for boycotting GB NEWS… many can play at that game!’ 

A second tweeted: ‘To my dear wife, it will delight you to hear that I will no longer subject you to a tour of IKEA. #boycott.’ 

Meanwhile, another Twitter user vowed to boycott all the companies who had withdrawn advertising and slammed Stop Funding Hate, saying that ‘stirring up hatred’ is the group’s ‘raison d’etre’.  

Andrew Neil also retweeted messages calling the decision ‘pathetic virtue signalling’ and accusing ‘corporations of making fools of themselves’ after Stop Funding Hate challenged advertisers on social media to deprive news outlets it disagrees with of revenue.  

The celebrated broadcaster and editor has pledged to confront cancel culture and expose it on the channel as supporters pointed out IKEA, who said GB News doesn’t align with its ‘humanistic values’ but still runs six stores in Saudi Arabia, where it is illegal to be gay and the state carries out scores of executions for a wide range of crimes.

Last night Swedish furniture giant IKEA said it had ‘not knowingly’ advertised on GB News. It added: ‘We are in the process of investigating how this may have occurred to ensure it won’t happen again in future, and have suspended paid display advertising in the meantime.’

Nivea, Kopparberg and Grolsch, the Open University, Ovo Energy and Octopus Energy have also pulled their adverts prompting a backlash and calls for boycott with many accusing the companies of succumbing to ‘woke zealots’.   

IKEA France was yesterday fined £1million and its former CEO Baillot was handed a two-year suspended jail sentence after the company spied on its employees for three years. 

The Swedish furniture giant was found guilty of setting up an elaborate system to illegally snoop on the private lives of hundreds of current staff and potential new-hires between 2009 and 2012.  

The ruling was less severe than recommended by prosecutors, who accused the furniture company of illicitly carrying out ‘mass surveillance’.

Baillot, IKEA France’s boss between 1996 and 2002, was also fined £43,000 after he was found guilty of ‘receiving personal data by fraudulent means.’ He was cleared of several other charges, including ‘violating professional secrecy.’

Prosecutors claim the illegal practices date back to the early 2000s. Baillot’s lawyer, Francois Saint-Pierre, said the former IKEA boss was ‘shocked’ by the sentence and is now considering an appeal.

A union representative, Adel Amara, who was among a total of 120 plaintiffs, said he was ‘pleased’ with the outcome of the trial, but called the punishments ‘a little too lenient.’

Swedish cider brand Kopparberg was the first to bow to pressure, saying they were broadcast ‘without knowledge or consent’.

The alcohol-brand was tagged in a list of of companies that advertise on the channel on social media. 

Others to pull their adverts include IKEA, Nivea, Grolsch, the Open University and Octopus Energy, prompting a backlash and calls for boycott with many accusing the companies of succumbing to ‘woke zealots’ and ‘cancel culture’.

Advertising sales for GB News are handled by Sky Media and a number of the companies said they were unaware their campaigns would appear on the new channel.

Sky Media spreads ad campaigns across its 130 channels which is normally targeted to certain audience demographics rather than specific channels. 

In a message on Twitter last night Kopparberg, which is based in Bergslagen, Sweden, wrote: ‘Thanks for bringing this to our attention. We want to make it clear to everyone that our ad ran on this channel without our knowledge or consent. 

‘Kopparberg is a drink for everyone and we have immediately suspended our ads from this channel pending further review of its content.’

Fellow drinks company Grolsch told ‘progressive digital campaigning platform’ Ripples: ‘This advert for Grolsch ran on the GB News channel completely without our knowledge or consent, and we’re in the process of investigating with our media partners why this happened. 

‘Grolsch is a brand that prides itself on core values of inclusion and openness to all people, and we want to be clear that we do not associate ourselves with any platforms or outlets that go against these values. 

‘We will do everything we possibly can to ensure that Grolsch does not appear on this channel again.’

Other companies who have been named online as advertisers but who are yet to respond include Amazon, Google, Facebook, Deliveroo, Kellogg’s, Starbucks and Vodafone.

IKEA said in its statement: ‘IKEA has not knowingly advertised on GB News, and we have safeguards in place to prevent our advertising from appearing on platforms that are not in line with our humanistic values and vision to side with the many people. 

‘We are in the process of investigating how this may have occurred to ensure it won’t happen again in future, and have suspended paid display advertising in the meantime.’

The other companies said they were not aware their campaigns were being broadcast on the new channel and are reviewing their policies and pausing their adverts. 

The move has triggered outrage among many online, with one branding Kopparberg’s decision ‘immature’. 

Comedian and writer Geoff Norcott wrote: ‘Ok, well Kopparberg UK is no longer a drink for me. That’s how knee-jerk b******t works right?

While another commented: ‘Thank you for bringing this to my attention so I won’t buy any of your products again. You obviously mean it’s a drink for ‘everyone’ who prescribes to your way of thinking.’

Another person added: ‘What an outrageous response! I have one bottle of Kopparberg left in my fridge and it will be my last. These vile companies that don’t believe in free speech or freedom of thought do not deserve our custom.’

Meanwhile another person said: ‘I’ve got four bottles of Kopparberg in my fridge. Now getting poured down the sunk! Pandering to woke zealots will do your company harm, I for one won’t be buying or drinking your product again. Great job.’

The move comes as a recently-launched social media campaign calls for more companies, including the AA, Amazon and Boots, to remove their advertisements from the news channel.

On Sunday, journalist and broadcaster Andrew Neil pledged his 24-hour news channel would tackle cancel culture and would not be ‘yet another echo chamber for the metropolitan mindset’ as he launched his new channel. 

GB News, which is aiming to reach those who feel ‘unheard’ by the media, launched at 8pm on Sunday, with a special programme titled Welcome To GB News.

It is the first new British news network in 24 years – since BBC News 24 launched in 1997. Although foreign channels have launched in the UK in that time, such as Al Jazeera English, this is the first new network specifically for UK audiences.

It has brought in big names ahead of its launch, including signing Simon McCoy, Sky News anchor Colin Brazier and new MailOnline columnist Dan Wootton.

At 8pm, as the channel launched, Mr Neil gave a five minute introduction to viewers, saying the network would concentrate on ‘the stories that matter to you and that others are neglecting’.

He added: ‘We are committed to covering the people’s agenda, not the media’s agenda.

‘GB News will not be yet another echo chamber for the metropolitan mindset that already dominates so much of the media.

‘We are proud to be British, the clue is in the name, and while we will never hold back from covering our country’s many flaws and problems… we won’t forget what the B stands for in our title.

‘We will puncture the pomposity of our elites… and expose their growing promotion of cancel culture for the threat to free speech and democracy that it is.’    

GB News will feature more than 6,500 hours of content a year, made exclusively for the channel, which has secured broadcasting licences from Ofcom.

It has been founded by media executives Andrew Cole and Mark Schneider. They plan for the channel to reach 96 per cent of British television households via Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media.   

GB News chief Andrew Neil today hit back at IKEA and its ‘criminal’ former French boss Jean-Louis Baillot (right) as the firm pulled its adverts from the new TV channel 

Mr Neil had this message for IKEA last night and also retweeted messages calling the decision ‘pathetic Woke virtue signalling’ and accusing ‘corporations making fools of themselves’

A website BoycottGBNews.org has also been set up by a business called ‘Ripples Campaigning’, which is run by former BBC worker Louise Wikstrom. It sets out six steps it hopes will sink the channel and urges social media users to share it online

At lunchtime yesterday, the Co-op was contacted via Twitter by ‘Paul’, an avid supporter of Stop Funding Hate’s campaign against GB News. Pictured: The GB news team 

Political figures joined the backlash against the boycott campaign today – while consumers vowed to themselves stop buying the wares of companies involved in it 

Nivea, Kopparberg, Grolsch, the Open University, Octopus Energy, Ovo Energy and insurer LV

IKEA, Nivea, Kopparberg, Grolsch, the Open University, Octopus Energy, Ovo Energy and insurer LV have also pulled their adverts from Andrew Neil’s new channel

Kopparberg sparked a backlash after suspending its advertisements from the newly-launched GB News channel

The alcohol brand said their advert had been broadcast on GB News ‘without knowledge or consent’ and they had now ‘immediately suspended’ their ads 

The move triggered outrage among some social media users, with one calling it an ‘immature decision’

Left to right: Kirsty Gallacher, Andrew Doyle, Neil Oliver, Darren McCaffrey, Alex Phillips, Rebecca Hutson, Simon McCoy, Nana Akua, Liam Halligan, Gloria Del Piero, Dan Wootton, Andrew Neil, Michelle Dewberry, Mercy Muroki, Tom Harwood, Colin Brazier, Inaya Folarin Iman, Alastair Stewart

The news channel has also signed up businesswoman and former Apprentice winner Michelle Dewberry (pictured)

Andrew Neil (with colleague Neil Oliver during the opening moments of GB News) said the network would concentrate on ‘the stories that matter to you and that others are neglecting’

Other names to feature on air include former Sky Sports presenter Kirsty Gallacher, Darren McCaffrey and Rosie Wright, who will host morning show The Great British Breakfast, while also working on other programmes.

It will be available to watch in HD on Sky channel 515 and Virgin Media’s channel 626, as well as also showing on Freeview and YouView channel 236, Freesat channel 216 and online. 

The news channel, launched as a rival to the news and current affairs offerings on the likes of BBC and Sky, has also signed up businesswoman and former Apprentice winner Michelle Dewberry.  

GB News has also recruited a team of regional reporters to help serve its mission of involving ‘non-metropolitan voices in the national conversation’.

Director of news and programmes John McAndrew said: ‘It’s a huge task to launch even one new programme, never mind a whole channel to run 18 hours a day.

‘The team has been working flat out and of course there’s a sense of nervous excitement, but mostly excitement. We can’t wait to get started now.’

Many viewers have enjoyed the channel, which has admitted to teething problems, especially with sound.

In a light-hearted tweet this afternoon, Simon McCoy, a star hire from the BBC tweeted: ‘I present a ‘Good News’ slot at 5.15pm on #GBNews

‘If your company or business has something to shout about – do let me know. If you have a story that might cheer us all up give me a shout’.

He added: ‘Also… If you make state-of-the-art equipment that sorts out sound problems .. just call me’.

‘Brilliant, refreshing and much needed’: Viewers praise opening moments as GB News takes to the air 

GB News viewers have taken to social media to praise the launch of the ‘straight-talking’ TV channel as it becomes the first new broadcaster to hit the UK’s airwaves in 24 years. 

The right-leaning channel, which aims to cater to a broad audience including those under-represented in the 2016 Brexit debate, was a hit with viewers as it began tonight with an introduction to the GB News team by presenter Andrew Neil.     

Neil began the show by calling ‘cancel culture’ a ‘threat to democracy’, telling viewers: ‘GB news will not be yet another echo chamber for the metropolitan mindset that dominates much of the media’.

Viewers took to social media to praise the ‘refreshing’ and ‘much needed’ addition to British television, which is the first new channel to launch since BBC News 24 in 1997.

Siân Davidson wrote: ‘Great to have a news channel where different views are shared rather than one viewpoint and Andrew Neil launching it #GBNews.’   

Jonathan wrote: ‘ @GBNEWS Well done Andrew Neil – a brilliant, refreshing and much needed introduction to our new news station!’   

Aaron Healey wrote: ‘#GBNews lovely to see all the triggered woke brigade aghast at having a channel not bowing to their woke b********.’

Jim Crozier wrote: ‘Just tuned into @GBNEWS and loving how Andrew Neil is already giving it both barrels! I don’t think I’ve ever been excited to watch the news.’

As the channel cut to its first advertisement break some Twitter users questioned whether the advertisers will face retaliation.

Martin Daubney wrote: ‘First ever @GBNEWS advertiser that the morons will want to cancel is… Kelloggs!’

Viewers rushed to social media to praise the ‘refreshing’ and ‘much needed’ addition to British television, which is the first to launch since BBC News 24 in 1997

Another viewer added: ”… if it matters to you… it matters to us.. Hector has left the building..’ 5 minutes in, what an introduction by Andrew Neil!!! … … love it already, this is my news channel now !!!’

Neil’s show will contain a segment called ‘Woke Watch’, with a live segment featuring a Dan Wootton interview with Lord Alan Sugar later this evening.

Neil told London’s Evening Standard newspaper: ‘We are for people who think the existing channels don’t quite represent how they see things.’ 

John McAndrew, GB News’ director of news and programming, said: ‘Our presenters will have the freedom to say what they think, to have some fun and to be brave about the issues that really matter to the people of Britain.’

The station, which has a staff of 140 journalists based at newly acquired offices in west London, has attracted a string of high-profile UK broadcasters.  

The channel, which is billed as ‘Britain’s news channel’ – with a logo featuring the red white and blue of the Union Jack – has been forced to fend off unfavourable comparisons to the firebrand and divisive populism of US network Fox News.  

McAndrew told trade publication Press Gazette this week the channel will not be a ‘hate-filled divisive shout-fest’.  

Prior to taking the role on at GB News Neil worked for 25 years at the BBC, edited the Sunday Times and founded Britain’s last successful TV start-up, Sky.  

Jennifer Saunders says Absolutely Fabulous wouldn’t be commissioned today in Britain’s ‘woke’ culture as she slams ‘small-mindedness’ for ruining comedy

One of the UK’s biggest hits, Absolutely Fabulous pushed the envelope when it came to edgy comedy in the 1990s.

But Jennifer Saunders thinks that most of the jokes in the classic sitcom wouldn’t be aired today due to cancel culture.

The television star, 62, said that the new ‘woke’ mind-set has changed comedy and people now ‘talk themselves out’ of telling any jokes that might be considered controversial.

‘Yes I think it has changed comedy like what we used to make. I think we would probably talk ourselves out of most of it now,’ she said during a talk at the Garrick Theatre. ‘It would be like, ‘We won’t have a good answer so let’s not do that.’

‘I think people do talk themselves out of stuff now because everything is sensitive in a funny way and what could be made to seem sensitive and it stops a lot of the fun maybe like jokes. I remember jokes. Silly jokes and stuff.’ 

Miss Saunders said that when she first started her comedy act French and Saunders alongside Dawn French, it was a reaction to some of the more old-fashioned comedians who were considered ‘sexist and racist.’

She said: ‘I do think people are more wary of what they say and do now, certainly.

‘And probably some of it is not bad as when we started as alternative comedians it was a sort of a reaction against the mainstream comedians who were considered sexist and racist.

‘There is always a backlash against stuff.’ The writer and actress said that it’s ‘not a crime to have an opinion’ but it is starting to become so in modern society.

She said: ‘What p***** me off? Quite a lot of stuff actually. I get p***** off by people and gentle criticism all the time. This is a modern thing isn’t it?

‘If someone says something it always has to be, ‘Oh, but sorry. You can’t say that.’ I say, ‘Oh f*** off.’ 

Too much for Gen Z? The comedienne, 62, created the series in 1992 and starred alongside Joanna Lumley in it as boozy drug-popping Edina Monsoon and her best pal Patsy Stone

Classic: The series lasted five seasons and continued on TV in the form of one-off special episodes until 2012. It then spawned a movie in 2016

‘It’s not a crime to have an opinion or say something. It is always so petty and small mindedness p***** me off, bigotry and small mindedness.’

Ab Fab originally ran on the BBC from 1992 to 1995 and was revived from 2001 to 2004. It has returned for a number of special episodes and Comic Relief sketches.

A big-screen version of the hit sitcom was released in 2016.

Despite its continued popularity and cult following, Miss Saunders said that they are unlikely to make any more anytime soon.

‘I think Ab Fab is unlikely to be honest. We are old. Bed. I mean I suppose it could but it would be a series more than a film. I don’t know,’ she said.

‘And French and Saunders the same. Dawn likes to write books and I like to do my garden. It’s hard to do those things as there is an expectation.’ 

Gone are the days of silly: ‘I think people do talk themselves out of stuff now because everything is sensitive. It stops a lot of the fun, maybe, like jokes. I remember jokes. Silly jokes,’ Jennifer said

More to come? However, Jennifer – despite dismissing the idea of another film or a new series of Ab Fab in the past – hinted it might not be the end yet

The sitcom’s comedy mostly rode on the fractiousness between Edina and her uptight daughter Saffron, played by Julia Sawalha. Eddy often found herself torn between her best friend Patsy and the disapproving Saffy.

The show also featured Jane Horrocks as PR maven Eddy’s madcap assistant Bubble, and June Whitfield as Eddy’s mother.

June’s last appearance in the franchise was, like the rest of the cast, in the 2016 big screen adaption, in which Eddy and Patsy were forced to flee the country after nearly killing Kate Moss.

June died in December 2018, two years after Jennifer insisted she was ‘done’ with Ab Fab. 

Iconic cast: The sitcom’s comedy mostly rode on the fractiousness between Edina and her uptight daughter Saffron, played by Julia Sawalha. The show also featured Jane Horrocks as PR maven Eddy’s madcap assistant Bubble, and June Whitfield as Eddy’s mother [pictured in 2011]

Loss: June died in December 2018, two years after Jennifer insisted she was ‘done’ with Ab Fab [pictured in one of the early episodes]

Despite a positive reaction to the film, and rumblings of a sequel, she told the Daily Mail in late 2016: ‘I’m not doing anything more with Ab Fab. That’s it. That. Is. It. I can’t see the point of doing anything else with it, really.’

Yet, in October 2018, she told an audience at Cheltenham Literature Festival that the idea of continuing Ab Fab was ‘always on my mind, always’.

She said: ‘I am thinking at the moment of writing a little something. It has to be age-appropriate otherwise we’d have to be in wheelchairs basically. I think Julia is old enough to be my mother now.’

She also touched upon political correctness at the time, saying: ‘I think it is harder to write what we used to write because there is just always someone tutting in the back of your mind. ‘Oh what do you think? Don’t you think someone might be offended?’ It is very tiring!’ 

Box office hit! The 2016 big screen adaption saw Eddy and Patsy flee the country after nearly killing Kate Moss [pictured]

TBC? In October 2018, Jennifer told an audience at Cheltenham Literature Festival that the idea of continuing Ab Fab was ‘always on my mind, always’

Timeless classic: Ab Fab ran for three series until its supposed two-part finale The Last Shout in 1996. However, it was rebooted for a fourth run in 2001 and a fifth season was made in 2004

Bring them back! The film followed in 2016 and this is, to date, the last fans have had of the franchise

Joanna, 75, said at the end of 2020 that the future of Ab Fab was entirely in Jennifer’s hands and to ‘wait and see’.

The show was developed from a sketch Jennifer wrote with her long-term comedy partner Dawn French in 1990, titled Modern Mother And Daughter.

The basis of the sketch became the premise for Ab Fab, which ran for three series until its supposed two-part finale The Last Shout in 1996. However, it was rebooted for a fourth run in 2001 and a fifth season was made in 2004.

Several one-offs followed, with the last TV episode to date airing in the summer of 2012, focusing on Eddy hosting Micheal Douglas at her house for the London Olympics.

The film followed in 2016 and this is, to date, the last fans have had of the franchise. 

Source: Read Full Article