Live BBC programmes have been hit by the first of a series of planned strikes. News output has been severely reduced across all channels and platforms and other live programmes could be affected.

Union leaders expect more than 10,000 BBC journalists, producers and technicians to stay at home as part of a 24-hour strike in protest at plans by the BBC to shed around 4,000 jobs.

BBC television news coverage was collapsed down to a sustaining service of News 24, fronted by a single virtually unknown presenter throughout the night and the early morning.

Among the live programming that could be affected is coverage of the opening day of the Chelsea Flower Show, a move no doubt calculated to bring the gardening nation to its knees. The corporation plans to bring in freelance crews to maintain continuity of its gardening output.

The National Union of Journalists, Bectu and Amicus said they had recently received record numbers of membership applications from BBC staff. The NUJ reported signing up 600 more members and the broadcasting and technicians union Bectu said it had received 1,300 new applications since plans to cut jobs were announced in March.

A further strike of 48 hours is planned next week, following the bank holiday weekend.