Andrew Neil ‘almost had breakdown’ at GB News

Veteran presenter, who quit after eight shows, says technical faults and other problems ‘would have killed him’ if he had carried on

Andrew Neil has revealed that he came close to having a breakdown while at GB News and believes “it would’ve killed me to carry on” due to the technical problems at the channel.

The veteran broadcaster, 72, resigned last week from his role as the rightwing network’s lead presenter and chairman after weeks of speculation about his future.

Neil was the face of GB News before it went on air in June, but left after presenting just eight programmes in three months because of technical hitches, the loss of senior staff and differences of opinion over its political direction.

On walking away from his £4m contract, the former BBC presenter told the Daily Mail: “It was a big decision but I frankly couldn’t care if it was £40m. This would have killed me if I’d carried on.”

Neil said he suffered stress and sleep deprivation due to technical issues in the early days. He told the newspaper: “It just went from bad to worse. There was one day we spent the whole day preparing the programme and fixing up a number of interviews down the line [remotely], because that was the business model.

“At one minute to eight [his flagship show was broadcast live at 8pm], I sat down, earpiece in, microphone on, only to be told by the director we had no external communications, so I had no guests.

“I was in despair. Unlike other shows, where there are two anchors, so they can talk rubbish to each other, I was on my own.”

Neil said the “stress was just huge” and that by the end of the first week, he felt like leaving.

“It was really beginning to affect my health. I wasn’t sleeping … I had a constant knot in my stomach. When I did wake up, I’d feel fine, then remember all the problems I had with GB News, and this knot would come and wouldn’t leave me for the whole day.”

The Guardian reported last week that although the terms of his departure were unknown, multiple GB News sources claim the process was the subject of lengthy legal wrangling after the deterioration in his relationship with the station’s chief executive, Angelos Frangopoulos.

In response to Neil’s comments, a spokesman for GB News said: “At no point did Andrew raise concerns of the editorial direction of GB News moving to the right. As with all companies, decision-making rests with the board, and GB News is no different. As a member of the board, Andrew had the same rights and abilities to raise concerns, and he was privy to all decisions.

“The launch date of GB News was set to accommodate Andrew’s own travel plans. Indeed, contrary to management’s wishes, it was Andrew who insisted the launch date be announced, failing which he refused to travel to London for it.”

The spokesman added: “The terms of his departure were properly negotiated and documented, with Andrew taking legal advice throughout. The fact that he has chosen to ignore these terms and make his departure unnecessarily contentious and public is a decision he will have to live with.”


Nadeem Badshah

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
How GB News is bringing US-style opinionated TV news to the UK
New channel is keen to reject comparisons with Fox News despite positioning itself as ‘anti-woke’

Jim Waterson

12, Jun, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
Behind the scenes of Andrew Neil’s departure from GB News
Sources say presenter was in legal battle with rightwing channel’s bosses over his £700,000-a-year contract

Jim Waterson

18, Sep, 2021 @7:00 AM

Article image
GB News launch gains more viewers than BBC or Sky news channels
‘Proud to be British’ new channel has backers including US Discovery and a Dubai-based fund

Kevin Rawlinson and Jim Waterson

14, Jun, 2021 @6:13 PM

Article image
GB News eyes Farage’s old Brexit party friends in wake of Andrew Neil exit
Channel appears to be moving further right with liberal voices squeezed out and Brexiters reported to be set to join

Jim Waterson Media editor

14, Sep, 2021 @6:43 PM

Article image
Andrew Neil resigns as lead presenter and chairman of GB News
Ex-BBC host was unhappy with technical mistakes, loss of key staff and the channel’s political direction

Jim Waterson Media editor

13, Sep, 2021 @7:30 PM

Article image
Andrew Neil outflanked by Nigel Farage in GB News culture war
Neil still deciding whether to take up role at GB News following two-month holiday

Jim Waterson

24, Aug, 2021 @4:45 PM

Article image
Tearful Andrew Neil’s tales of woe about GB News leave his critics unmoved
LBC’s James O’Brien attacks veteran broadcaster’s ‘unfeasibly high opinion of himself’

Vanessa Thorpe

26, Sep, 2021 @8:45 AM

Article image
‘Journalists are PR department of Greenpeace’: Andrew Neil on climate crisis
Presenter also tells Freeview event he would like to return to British television

Jim Waterson

17, Nov, 2021 @6:15 PM

Article image
Andrew Neil will not make expected return to GB News next week
Unclear when or if presenter will return to station he founded, as GB News plans for relaunch

Ben Quinn and Jim Waterson

03, Sep, 2021 @3:15 PM

Article image
Former ITN newsreader Alastair Stewart joins GB News channel
Broadcaster who was sacked over multiple ‘errors of judgment’ to host weekend show on rightwing station

Jim Waterson Media editor

02, Apr, 2021 @6:21 PM