Watching brief - Amanda Platell won't have Angus Deayton home

The latest revelations about Angus Deayton's private life leave him so exposed on<em> Have I Got New

The irony of BBC2's Saturday night scheduling escaped no one. First, at 9.05, came Fame, Set and Match, a series that explores the career suicide of television celebrities.

The show featured has-beens such as Selina Scott, Jeremy Beadle, Frank Bough (who only once survived a sex scandal involving prostitutes, drugs and sadomasochism; the second time he was out for the count) and Ulrika Jonsson (who will probably thrive on her own sexual revelations, although they were about as exciting as constructing an Ikea bookcase on a wet Sunday afternoon).

The similarities between Bough and the star of the next show that night, Have I Got News For You?, were striking. By the next morning, the Sunday Mirror had revealed Angus Deayton's predilection for sex, drugs and prostitutes. A former mistress wanted to put the record straight. The two-and-a-half-year affair with Stacy Herbert, conducted while he was living with Lise Meyer, was not new, but the details were.

"We lay by the pool next to [six months pregnant] Lise . . . he led me inside to make love." "He's so insatiable I had to hire prostitutes to bed him." "Angus took cocaine on five separate occasions."

All Deayton needed now was a few whipping scenes and a rubber suit to give old Frank Bough a run for his money.

The affair began while Angus and Lise were undergoing IVF treatment. The night before their baby was born, Angus enjoyed a three-in-a-bed with his mistress and a "pretty blonde friend called Sabrina". It appears he broke free from the menage a trois long enough to speak to his partner of nine years while she was in labour. Now that's what I call considerate.

For the moment, the BBC has been understanding. As the affair was already known about and did not constitute a "new offence", Deayton was safe from the sack, at least for this series.

Privately, BBC insiders believe he is finished.

Operating in a free market, ITV bosses were free to make a cool commercial calculation when it came to dealing with, for example, Michael Barrymore - was he now so badly damaged that the viewers would turn off? And they decided he was. But the question Deayton's behaviour raises is: should a state-controlled broadcaster demand certain moral standards of its employees, especially high-profile, highly paid presenters who are, as such, ambassadors for the corporation?

I think not. As viewers we have our own moral standards. Ultimately, we decide the fate of the Deaytons of this world. We vote with our remotes - and Deayton has now become synonymous with the "off" button.

I've always been a great fan of Have I Got News For You? and, like many women, a secret admirer of its presenter. But the latest revelations, particularly the way he treated his partner Lise, have made me completely revise my opinion.

Television is about letting celebrities into your home. Now I don't want that man in my house, and most women feel the same.

More importantly, for a presenter who earns £50,000 a show for ridiculing other people's failures, he is now comically exposed. Christine Hamilton complained on the show last week that Deayton repeatedly called her husband "the disgraced former Tory MP".

"If he's disgraced, what are you?" she asked, and that was before the Sunday Mirror's exclusive.

Sorry, Angus, but the moment a political satirist has to surrender the moral high ground to Christine Hamilton, it's all over.

Secretly, the search is now on for the new Angus. The format has been so popular that it is inconceivable that the show will die with Deayton.

Front-runners are Mark Lamarr, of Buzzcocks fame, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, and Jonathan Ross.

But the surprise late entry into the race is the BBC political editor, Andrew Marr. The new BBC trailers, where he accosts a couple in Greenwich Park, demonstrate his great comic potential.

The Sunday Times bestseller lists reveal that of the top 20 hard-cover and paperback books, 16 are celebrity autobiographies. (But where is the political epic Edwina and the Big Blue Pants?)

The Daily Mail's now-weekly book serialisations demonstrate the public's insatiable appetite for the sordid lives of celebrities. And with Ulrika Jonsson's rape charge against an unnamed (but since identified) television presenter, we have trial by autobiography.

Which is the lesser of two evils: the alleged date rape of a young woman, or the ability to destroy someone else's life and livelihood without that person ever having the opportunity of a fair trial?

It's an unhealthy twist in our media-driven society.