Sunday 18 August 2019

Danny Baker says he is no ‘downbeat racist wretch’ after BBC sacking

His dismissal follows a tweet about the birth of the royal baby.

Danny Baker speaking at his London home (Victoria Jones/PA)
Danny Baker speaking at his London home (Victoria Jones/PA)

By Sherna Noah and Mason Boycott-Owen, Press Association

Broadcaster Danny Baker insisted he was no “downbeat racist wretch” after he was sacked for tweeting a joke about the Duke and Duchess Of Sussex’s son featuring a picture of a chimpanzee.

The motormouth DJ was axed from BBC Radio 5 Live for what his bosses said was a “serious error of judgment”.

Baker, 61, who has been sacked from the station before, blasted his bosses for their handling of the controversy and said he was trying to make a point about class.

The DJ had tweeted a black and white image showing a well-dressed man and woman holding hands with a suited chimpanzee, which he captioned: “Royal baby leaves hospital”.

The tweet came on the same day Harry and Meghan, whose mother is African American, posed with their new arrival, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

Following a backlash and accusations of racism, he deleted the post and apologised.

Baker claimed ignorance saying: “My go-to photo when any posh people have a baby is this absurd chimpanzee in a top hat leaving the hospital”.

And he added: “I didn’t know which of our royal princesses had given birth.”

Speaking to journalists outside his London home, he said it was “weasely for the BBC to chuck us under the bus”.

He revealed that he ended his “lecture” from his bosses “with two very old fashioned Anglo-Saxon words”.

Baker, also known as a scriptwriter for his friend Chris Evans, added: “I don’t think they would have done it to some university-type people who’ve been at Radio 4 for a long time.”

He said the accusations were “absurd, grotesque”, adding: “You’d have to have a diseased mind (to have done it).”

Wearing a Fez, Baker told reporters outside his home: “You would have thought I’d had a shave and put something else on. I look like the downbeat racist wretch they all think I am.”

But he said of his sacking: “It’s not as if I’d lost the breakfast show at Virgin Radio or something.”

Baker alerted fans to his sacking when he tweeted “just got fired from BBC 5 Live” before the BBC had made a statement.

“The call to fire me from @bbc5live was a masterclass of pompous faux-gravity,” he wrote.

“Took a tone that said I actually meant that ridiculous tweet and the BBC must uphold blah blah blah. Literally threw me under the bus. Could hear the suits knees knocking.”

BBC Radio 5 Live previously dropped Baker’s soccer phone-in show in 1997 when the broadcaster’s news chief Tony Hall, now the corporation’s director general, said he had crossed “the line between being humorous and controversial and being insulting”.

His BBC London 94.9 show was also axed in 2012, days before he was due to be inducted into the Radio Academy Hall of Fame.

The DJ has been unafraid to publicly criticise his BBC bosses, calling them “pinheaded weasels”.

The broadcaster, who hosted a weekly show on 5 Live, made his name as a journalist on the punk fanzine Sniffin’ Glue before going on to work at NME and launching a career in TV and radio.

He denied bullying campmates in 2016 when he was the first in the series to get the boot from I’m A Celebrity.

In an email to staff on Thursday morning, 5 Live controller Jonathan Wall wrote: “I have just spoken to Danny Baker and let him know that he will no longer be presenting his weekly show with us.

“Danny made a serious error of judgment on social media last night and it goes against the values we live and breathe on this radio station.

“Danny has been a brilliant broadcaster for us and I want to thank him for his work with us on Saturday mornings over the last few years.”

Baker is currently in the midst of his Good Time Charlie’s Back live tour, and he is still expected to perform for audiences throughout May and June, including on Sunday at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham.

PA Media

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