Robbie Savage has made a heart-warming gesture to BBC staff who will not be paid after two Radio 5 Live shows were cancelled last weekend. Savage’s colleagues joined the boycott in solidarity with Gary Lineker, who was temporarily told to step back from his presenting duties after criticising the government’s asylum policy on social media.
The BBC’s action against Lineker prompted a wave of subsequent reaction, with Match of the Day airing in an unfamiliar 20-minute format without pundit analysis or even commentary. A host of fellow BBC employees made themselves unavailable last weekend to take a stand against the broadcaster.
Two editions of radio show Six-0-Six, which is presented by Savage on the BBC, were cancelled as part of the boycott. Eight of the backroom staff who work on the show consequently went unpaid.
But according to The Mirror, Savage has offered to pay all of them in a move that would take around £1,000 out of his own pocket.
The former Leicester City and Blackburn Rovers star also admitted that he almost went against the grain by defying the boycott. “I was inclined to work, but I didn’t have the guts to go through with it – because nobody wanted to be that ‘scab’ who broke ranks,” he said.
“They have mortgages to pay, heating bills to pay, they have to put bread on the table like any working household. I hope there are other pundits who would like to do the same thing. Although I wasn’t a ringleader in Six-0-Six being off the air, I feel it’s the least I can do.”
Lineker will be back on screens this Saturday as he hosts the BBC’s coverage of Manchester City vs Burnley in the FA Cup quarter-finals. Senior figures at the broadcasting corporation held talks with the former England star earlier this week and it was quickly decided that he would be put back on air.
BBC Director General Tim Davie explained the situation in a lengthy statement, which included: “Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences. I apologise for this.
“The potential confusion caused by the grey areas of the BBC’s social media guidance that was introduced in 2020 is recognised. I want to get matters resolved and our sport content back on air.
“Impartiality is important to the BBC. It is also important to the public. The BBC has a commitment to impartiality in its Charter and a commitment to freedom of expression. That is a difficult balancing act to get right where people are subject to different contracts and on air positions, and with different audience and social media profiles.”