Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chris Evans in race row after saying he could not see black scientist in darkened studio

By Paul Revoir

Claims: Chris Evans has been accused of making a racist comment to scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock during last Friday's edition of the One Show

Chris Evans has been accused of racism after telling a black scientist he could not see her in a dim BBC studio.

The presenter told Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, a highly respected space expert and government adviser: ‘I can barely see you, to be honest.’

The remark came after he mistakenly said she was Caribbean when she is of Nigerian descent.

The Corporation received 56 complaints from viewers who interpreted his comments as a racist joke. One angrily condemned the words as ‘proper foot-in-mouth’.

Evans’s comment was made early in The One Show last Friday during a discussion about a week of ‘space spectating’ which had included a lunar eclipse.

Dr Aderin-Pocock, sitting next to singer Tom Jones on the studio sofa, was asked if there were more to come.

She replied: ‘There’s plenty out there to see, unfortunately not tonight.’

Mr Evans then said: ‘It’s terrible tonight, I can barely see you, to be honest.’

Interview: Evans made the comment as he spoke with Dr Aderin-Pocock during a 'space spectating' section of the show

Brushed off: Dr Aderin-Pocock seemed to take no notice of the remark, which came after she had already corrected the presenter over her nationality

It was unclear if Dr Aderin-Pocock, born in London of Nigerian parents, was offended as she coolly brushed off the comment.

She had already corrected him over her nationality as they talked about her name.

Evans, who also presents the Radio 2 breakfast show, had said: ‘It’s Welsh, but you’re Caribbean’, before she said: ‘No, no, I’m Nigerian.’

The comment has similarities to remarks made by former Radio 2 presenter Sarah Kennedy in 2007.

Star guest: Tom Jones also appeared on the show, which attracted 56 complaints from viewers

She said she had nearly run over a black pedestrian in the dark and had only seen him when he ‘opened his mouth’.

Last night, the BBC said Evans’s comment had simply been a ‘quip’ referring to the studio lights being dimmed. They denied it was a ‘racist remark’ and said the guest had also drawn no such ‘inference’ from the remark.

But viewers clearly did and posted their reaction on Twitter.

‘One said: ‘Did Chris Evans just make a racist comment? I’m confused.’

Another added: ‘I swear Chris Evans was racist on The One Show.’

One said: ‘Chris Evans you racist, you called a Nigerian woman Caribbean, then said ‘we could hardly see you tonight’ – proper foot in mouth.’

A BBC spokesman said: ‘This was a quip in reference to the lights being specifically dimmed in the studio. It was absolutely not a racist remark and the guest did not draw any inference from the comment.’


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