UK television presenter sacked after "golliwog" comment

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The BBC building in White City, London, from where The One Show is broadcast
Image: Redvers.

The BBC has sacked Carol Thatcher after she compared a black tennis player to a golliwog doll.

Thatcher, daughter of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was dropped from the primetime BBC One magazine programme The One Show after she made the remark after the show in the studio green room. The BBC has declined to name the tennis player in question.

Illustration of a child with a golliwog doll.
Image: Amandajm.

The BBC said that it had hoped for an unconditional apology from the 55-year-old journalist and I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here winner after staff reported that the remark to management, but a spokesman said "We're no longer going to be working with her on The One Show" when the apology did not appear.

Thatcher's spokesman said that she "never intended any racist comment", adding that "[s]he made a light aside about this tennis player and his similarity to the golliwog on the jam pot when she was growing up. There's no way, obviously, that she would condone any racist comment - we would refute that entirely. It would not be in her nature to do anything like that". He said that "[s]he has summarily apologised".

The BBC said that remarks of this type were "wholly unacceptable". Former Conservative cabinet minister Lord Tebbit said "It does seem very odd that Jonathan Ross can be back broadcasting having made obscene, insulting remarks on the air, and Carol Thatcher, who said something which is allegedly highly offensive but which I rather doubt was meant to be so, in private, should be banned in this way," adding, "It is probably a bit of a way for the BBC to get back at Carol's mother". The AFP news agency reports that Thatcher will still work with the BBC on other projects.

The Corporation has suffered scandals in the last few years, such as the recent Russell Brand-Jonathan Ross episode, which saw the two presenters making obscene phone calls to actor Andrew Sachs.