In a recent episode of BBC’s Question Time, host Fiona Bruce faced criticism for her description of an audience member as ‘the black guy.’ The incident occurred during Thursday night’s broadcast when Bruce, asking for input from the audience, pointed to Roberto Gocan, a 35-year-old attendee, and referred to him as ‘the black guy in the middle.’ This remark, edited out in the version uploaded to BBC iPlayer, sparked outrage on social media.
Both Fiona Bruce and the BBC publicly apologized for the incident, acknowledging the offense caused by the host’s words. Bruce personally reached out to Gocan, expressing her regret for her choice of words. Gocan appreciated Bruce’s personal apology but questioned why the clip had been deleted, emphasizing that the remark was audible in the live broadcast.
The audience member, Gocan, admitted feeling taken aback by the incident, especially as others were described based on their clothing or accessories. He intended to review the episode but found the controversial part edited out. The incident gained attention on social media, with former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal sharing the original clip, urging people to listen to ‘the black guy’s’ perspective on the issue discussed during the show.
Fiona Bruce, whose arm was in a sling due to a recent injury, explained her intention was to ensure the audience member’s voice was heard, as her view was obscured. She usually describes individuals to assist sound engineers in locating them in the audience. However, she acknowledged that her choice of words was inappropriate and promptly issued an apology. The BBC also expressed regret for identifying the audience member in that manner and edited the iPlayer version to remove the offensive remark.
The panel on that particular episode included Transport Minister Richard Holden, Shadow Paymaster General Jonathan Ashworth, writer Emma Dabiri, Iceland supermarket executive Richard Walker, and journalist-author Tony Parsons. Despite the controversy, Fiona Bruce’s personal apology to the audience member was received positively, but it raised questions about the incident’s handling and the subsequent editing of the program for online viewers.
This incident serves as a reminder of the importance of respectful language and awareness of potential biases, even in live television settings. Public reactions underscore the need for continuous dialogue about racial sensitivity and appropriate communication, emphasizing the significance of addressing such incidents promptly and openly to foster understanding and avoid perpetuating stereotypes.