Nigel Farage has been recruited to help save flailing GB News, as the new broadcaster’s ratings plummeted and senior executives started to jump ship.
The former Brexit Party and Ukip leader will host a primetime show four nights a week. Other shows will be tripped, meaning he will not replace any current presenters.
Farage’s arrival comes days after the station became embroiled in a culture war with itself, after its director of programming reportedly qui hours after a presenter was pulled off air for taking the knee.
The row sparked fears of a viewer boycott, with TV ratings showing figures on some shows the following day plunged close to zero.
Announcing the move on Twitter, Farage said: “Watch my new Prime Time evening show on GB News from next week.
“Tune into “Farage” Mon – Thurs at 7pm. I will not be taking the knee on this show!”
BREAKING— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) July 17, 2021
Watch my new Prime Time evening show on GB News from next week.
Tune into “Farage” Mon – Thurs at 7pm.
I will not be taking the knee on this show! pic.twitter.com/1wV0H6QbXZ
Amid fears for the broadcaster’s future, GB News chair Andrew Neil said on Friday that the channel is “finding its feet” but has a “great future” ahead of it.
The journalist and broadcaster made the comment amid reports the channel’s director of news and programmes, John McAndrew, has stepped down and a presenter, Guto Harri, has been taken off air.
Neil has been absent from the channel after announcing a break two weeks into GB News’ launch.
On Friday, he tweeted: “Start ups are fraught and fractious. @GBNEWS is no exception.
“But the news channel is finding its feet and has a great future. Watch this space.”
Presenter Harri has been taken off air after the channel said he breached its “standards” by taking the knee on air in support of England’s footballers, according to The Guardian.
On Thursday, GB News apologised after Harri made the gesture while discussing the racial abuse suffered by members of the national side following their loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
A statement from GB News on Twitter said: “GB News stands four square against racism in all its forms. We do not have a company line on taking the knee.
“Some of our guests have been in favour, some against. All are anti-racist. We have editorial standards that all GB News journalists uphold.
“On Tuesday a contributing presenter took the knee live on air and this was an unacceptable breach of our standards.
“We let both sides of the argument down by oversimplifying a very complex issue.”
On Friday, presenter Alastair Stewart also announced he is taking a break from his GB News show after breaking his hip.
The former ITV presenter, 69, anchors a programme called Alastair Stewart And Friends on the new channel, featuring conversation and analysis of current affairs.
Stewart said on Twitter he would be stepping back from the show after being knocked over by a horse.
He wrote: “I won’t be hosting #AlastairStewartAndFriends on @GBNEWS this weekend due to……. a broken hip! I fear it’ll be a while but I’ll be back!!!
“Thanks for kindness & support to all at @GBNEWS, the brilliant Anita @AnitaLandLtd & my extraordinary family…”
In a second post he disclosed how he was hurt, writing: “I was leading in one of the horses & she bolted, knocking me over – rather forcefully!”