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Danny Baker fired by BBC over royal baby chimp tweet

Thursday May 9, 2019

Broadcaster Danny Baker has been fired by the BBC over his "stupid unthinking gag" on Twitter about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's new baby.

The now deleted tweet, which has been circulated on social media, showed an image of a couple holding hands with a chimpanzee dressed in clothes with the caption: "Royal Baby leaves hospital".

The 5 Live presenter was accused of mocking the duchess's racial heritage.

A BBC spokesperson said: "This was a serious error of judgement."

The 61-year-old presented a weekend show on the network.

The corporation added Baker's tweet "goes against the values we as a station aim to embody.

"Danny's a brilliant broadcaster but will no longer be presenting a weekly show with us."
After tweeting an apology, calling his tweet a "stupid unthinking gag pic", Baker tweeted about the BBC's decision, saying: "The call to fire me... was a masterclass of pompous faux-gravity."

"Took a tone that said I actually meant that ridiculous tweet and the BBC must uphold blah blah blah," he added. "Literally threw me under the bus. Could hear the suits' knees knocking."
Speaking to the media outside his house, he told reporters: "I do not, not understand all of this, I get it. But for 5 Live to chuck us under the bus like this, dear lord."

When quizzed on what he would do next, he added: "I'm annoyingly ebullient and if you're accused of the kind of grotesque racism but you're not, you don't wring your hands. Ill advised, ill thought out and stupid but racist? No, I'm aware how delicate that imagery is."

Harry and Meghan, whose mother Doria Ragland is African American, revealed on Wednesday their new son was named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

After the initial backlash on social media on Wednesday, Baker said: "Sorry my gag pic of the little fella in the posh outfit has whipped some up. Never occurred to me because, well, mind not diseased.
'Enormous mistake'

"Soon as those good enough to point out its possible connotations got in touch, down it came. And that's it."

Just before he was sacked, he told his half a million Twitter followers he was doorstepped by reporters at his home, saying he was asked: "Do you think black people look like monkeys?"

His tweet added: "No mate. Gag pic. Posh baby chimp. Alerted to circs. Appalled. Deleted. Apologised."

In a following tweet, he added: "Would have used same stupid pic for any other Royal birth or Boris Johnson kid or even one of my own. It's a funny image. (Though not of course in that context.) Enormous mistake, for sure. Grotesque.

"Anyway, here's to ya Archie, Sorry mate."
Baker's Saturday Morning show on BBC 5 Live won him a Sony Gold award for Speech Radio Personality of the Year in 2011, 2012 and 2014 and a Gold Award for entertainment show of the year in 2013.

His irrepressible style made him one of the most popular radio presenters of his generation and saw him described by one writer as the "ultimate geezer".

Baker was also a successful magazine columnist, scriptwriter and TV documentary maker.

He wrote a number of TV shows including Pets Win Prizes and Win, Lose or Draw and, in 1990, The Game, a series about an amateur soccer team in east London.

A stint at BBC London station GLR in the late 80s saw him strike up an enduring friendship with fellow broadcaster Chris Evans, and Baker would later write scripts for the Channel 4 show TFI Friday, which Evans hosted.
Controversial comments

It's the second time Baker has been axed by 5 live and is the third time he has left the BBC.

In 1997, he was fired for encouraging football fans to make a referee's life hell after the official had awarded a controversial penalty in an FA Cup tie.

He later claimed he had never incited fans to attack the referee, only that he would have understood if they had.

In 2012, two weeks before he was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame, he was was back in the news after an on-air rant in which he resigned and branded his bosses at BBC London "pinheaded weasels" after being asked to move from a weekday programme to a weekend.

"It's a dirty rotten shame and a rotten way they did it," he said at the time. "Nobody phoned me. Apparently they were planning on getting round to telling me."

In 2016, Baker took part on I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here but was the first person to be voted off in the series.


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