Radio host Danny Baker has issued an apology after being fired by the BBC for a controversial and racist tweet about the royal baby.
The former 5 Live presenter, 61, sparked a backlash after mocking Meghan Markle’s heritage in a now deleted post that featured an image of two people holding hands with a chimpanzee dressed in a suit.
He posted it, moments after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex revealed their son, with the caption: “Royal baby leaves hospital.”
Baker admitted the tweet was “ridiculous, stupid and idiotic” in an interview with Sky News, but – in a series of tweets – elaborated upon why he decided to use that particular photo.
“Following one of the worst days of my life I just want to formally apologise for the outrage I caused and explain how I got myself into this mess,” he wrote.
“In attempting to lampoon privilege & the news cycle I went to a file of goofy pictures & saw the chimp dressed as a Lord and thought, ‘That’s the one!’ Had I kept searching I might have chosen General Tom Thumb or even a baby in a crown. But I didn’t. God knows I wish had.”
He went on to claim that he forgot about the royal baby’s mixed-race heritage and deleted the photo after being alerted by his followers.
“The picture in context as presented was obviously shamefully racist,” he continued, adding: “It was never intended so.”
The BBC confirmed Baker’s firing with the following statement: “This was a serious error of judgment and 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.”
Following the news, Baker suggested he believed the the BBC could have handled the situation better and described “the call to fire” him as “a masterclass of pompous faux-gravity”.
He said that bosses “took a tone that said [he] actually meant that ridiculous tweet”, adding: “Literally threw me under the bus. Could hear the suits knees knocking.”
Baker’s tweet received a huge backlash on social media from many, including journalist and author Elizabeth Day, who said she was “revolted” by the post.
“[I’m] insulted by his assertion that he had no idea of the racist connotations of that picture and disgusted by the continued wilful blindness of these privilege-inhabiting k***heads,” she wrote on Twitter.
One celebrity who jumped to the defence of Baker, though, was comedian Dara Ó Briain. While disagreeing with the tweet, he felt that the BBC’s decision was too extreme.
“What? Danny Baker got fired? But he immediately apologised and deleted the tweet!” he wrote. “I mean, literally, in the event of mistakenly causing offence, what else can you do? Genuinely amazed by that.”
Many Twitter users expressed confusion over the fact the BBC would fire Baker for a “racist” tweet, but wouldn’t swing the axe on Alan Sugar, who came under fire for the same reason last year. In 2018, he was criticised after comparing Senegal’s World Cup team to vendors “from the beach in Marbella”.
British music journalist Simon Price wrote: “The BBC is taking an awfully long time to sack Alan Sugar from The Apprentice over his unambiguously racist tweet about the Senegal football team last summer, but I’m sure they’ll get round to it eventually.”
After posting the initial tweet, Baker swiftly deleted it and commented: “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.”
He continued: “Soon as those good enough to point out its possible connotations got in touch, down it came. And that’s it.”
The royal baby – whose name is Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor – was born on Monday 6 May before making his first public appearance at Windsor Castle two days later.