BBC Midlands Today presenters Suzanne Virdee and Nick Owen deserted the studios to join a Bonfire Night strike at the Mailbox, in Birmingham.

And one of Nick’s ties was also a casualty of the protest, with the broadcaster persuaded to donate the item to a Guy Fawkes-style dummy assembled to mark the BBC journalists’ November 5 and 6 picket line protest.

Dozens of broadcast journalists based at BBC Birmingham's headquarters at the Mailbox walked out for 48 hours as part of a nationwide strike over pensions called by the National Union of Journalists.

The action was backed by other national broadcasters, with high-profile presenters such as Fiona Bruce and Kirsty Wark quitting their studio desks for 48 hours.

One Birmingham NUJ member said: “We feel that this is all about getting rid of the final salary pension scheme and softening people up for further cuts.

“There are people who will lose up to £100,000 on this and will have to work longer to lose money. Why should we not try to do something about it?

“We have had very few people cross the picket lines here in Birmingham. There is going to be real disruption – feelings are running very high.”

He said Nick Owen had been persuaded to cast off an old green tie to the Bonfire Night guy, which will go up in flames at a Guy Fawkes celebration and added: “It’s about time it went on a bonfire.”

The BBC Director-General Mark Thompson had issued an eleventh-hour appeal to staff before the strike, saying walkouts would bring “significant loss of earnings without any advantage or benefit in return”.

Thompson wrote in an e-mail to staff: “The public, many of whom are facing difficult employment and economic pressures, will find it very hard to understand why the BBC’s service to them should be impaired in this way.”

The NUJ walkout follows a 70 per cent rejection of the BBC’s final offer on pensions.

The deficit facing the BBC is estimated at between £1.5 billion and £2 billion.