Viewers' fury at Alan for Nigella 'bitch' quip
TV3 has been inundated with complaints from angry viewers after presenter Alan Hughes called celebrity chef Nigella Lawson a "stupid bitch" live on air.
The independent broadcaster was forced to issue a humbling apology for Hughes's live outburst on the Ireland AM show.
Hughes caused outrage among early morning viewers when he criticised Lawson, who last week in a UK court admitted taking cocaine.
The broadcaster accepted the remark was not appropriate for an early morning broadcast, but said they would not be taking disciplinary action against Hughes.
A favourite with families and children across the country due to his hugely successful Cheerios Christmas Panto, the presenter fell out of favour with audience members following last Thursday morning's on-air slip.
Hughes apologised shortly after making the comment when about a dozen complaints flooded into the show via text, email and Twitter.
"Alan made the remark at 8.10am and apologised during his next live broadcast at 8.35am following complaints from viewers," a spokesperson confirmed to the Sunday Independent.
"Alan said immediately that he shouldn't have made the comments so we knew that the apology had to happen and is something that TV3 strongly encouraged.
"It is a morning show so there is no place for comments like that.
"Alan is such a natural broadcaster that he speaks his mind a lot of the time and TV3 won't be taking any disciplinary action against him," the spokesperson added.
When contacted by the Sunday Independent, Hughes said the comment was an "off-the-cuff comment that I made and that is the end of it".
The presenter, who is currently starring as Sammy Sausages in Jack & the Beanstalk at the Tivoli Theatre, said he did not wish to comment further on the issue.
UK culinary star Lawson last week admitted to snorting cocaine and also to smoking cannabis in the past, but denied that she was a habitual drug user.
The 53-year-old said that she first snorted the class-A drug when her late husband John Diamond was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2001 and on a later occasion during her troubled marriage to ex-husband Charles Saatchi.
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"Alan has very strong opinions about drug abuse," the TV3 spokesperson said.
However, the broadcaster insisted that not all of the audience reaction was negative towards Hughes.
"Some of the reaction was quite mixed; some viewers said that he was dead right to make the comment, while others said that it was a disgraceful comment to make at that time of the morning."
The comments also sparked a Twitter storm, with critics labelling the remark as "totally disgusting and unacceptable" as well as "offensive".