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INTRODUCTION: THE TALK SHOW PHENOMENON
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Two British news stories from 1999: In February it was reported that two producers and a researcher working on the BBC talk show Vanessa had been suspended following a revelation that some guests on the program were fakes (Guardian, 1999a). What was particularly scandalous was that two strippers, purporting to be “feuding sisters” had been knowingly recruited from an entertainment agency. This was too much for the BBC hierarchy, who produced a statement concluding that “audiences must be able to believe in the integrity of our programs.” The Guardian article drew comparisons with Vanessa’s ITV rival Trisha, where producers claimed they had been duped into featuring fakes. Later in 1999, Vanessa was axed by the BBC, having lost its ratings battle with Trisha.