THE BBC has confirmed that it will not air the pilot of Debate Night – a Scottish version of Question Time to air on the new BBC Scotland channel.

The show had attracted controversy even before its first broadcast after it was revealed that failed Ukip candidate Billy Mitchell had been invited to appear on the show.

Mitchell has appeared on Question Time episodes four times, and after a backlash towards the BBC following his one-minute rant at SNP minister Fiona Hyslop resulted in his serial attendance being revealed, he was informally banned from appearing in future.

The pilot of Debate Night, shot to test the new show's format, was filmed before the row had broken out.

The BBC told The Herald that it would not be broadcast: “Due to data protection rules, the BBC cannot routinely comment on any individuals who take part in productions.

"Pilots which are not going on air tend not to be advertised but they obviously still require an audience.

"A significant number of audience members who have currently or previously expressed an interest in taking part in our programmes were contacted to determine whether they would be interested in attending this non-broadcast pilot episode of Debate Night.

"It’s an efficient way of gauging potential audience interest in attending these types of events and of producing a non-broadcast pilot.

"People express interest and always as part of that process a research conversation takes place about the application. This is not the same as an invitation.

"We act in good faith during this process and expect potential audience members to do the same."

The decision not to air the pilot is not unusual – as a current affairs show, the subject matter goes out of date quickly.

Mitchell published his invitation to appear on the pilot on Twitter, but the BBC has refused to answer further questions on this citing data protection rules.

An email to Mitchell said he was invited due to his interest in appearing on Question Time, but the BBC had claimed in a letter sent to all Scottish MPs and MSPs that he had not filled in his application form for the Motherwell show accurately.

It is unclear how many of those who applied for Motherwell were invited to the Debate Night pilot, but two audience members confirmed to The National that they had not been.