Broadcaster Danny Baker has been fired by the BBC after he tweeted a joke about the Duke and Duchess Of Sussex’s son using a picture of a chimpanzee.
Harry and Meghan revealed on Wednesday that their new arrival was named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
Radio DJ Baker made a joke about the birth, tweeting a black and white photo showing a well-dressed man and woman holding hands with a suited chimpanzee.
Baker captioned it: “Royal baby leaves hospital”. Following a backlash and allegations of racism given the Duchess of Sussex is mixed race, he deleted the post and apologised.
On Thursday morning, he posted another message on social media, saying he had been “fired” by the BBC, later saying he had made a “grotesque mistake”.
A BBC spokesman said: “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.”
Speaking outside his Blackheath home, he admitted his relationship with the BBC has always been tense, and said he did not know the royal baby was Meghan and Harry’s.
When a follower pointed out to him that baby Archie’s mother is mixed race, Baker said he immediately took the tweet down.
Baker later hit back at his former employers, and tweeted: “The call to fire me from BBC 5Live was a masterclass of pompous faux-gravity. 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.”
Baker added: “For the record – it was red sauce. Always,” in reference to the regular feature Sausage Sandwich Game on his Saturday morning Radio 5 Live show.
The segment takes a celebrity and gets two guests to guess which condiment the famous person would ask for if handed a sausage sandwich – brown sauce, red sauce or no sauce at all.
Defending his actions on LBC, he accused the BBC of being “weasly”, adding that he made an “innocent mistake”.
Speaking to his friend James O’Brien, the presenter said: “I used to do it on my show a lot, monkeys dressed as famous people with fairground music.”
He added: “The BBC suddenly decides it’s going to throw me under the bus, and that’s the thing that stings. I mean, there’s a tremendously weasly thing to do again.” He accused them of “giving credence” to the idea he was “revealed as a racist after all these years”.
Baker said he gave the BBC staff member who fired him short shrift: “I was given a lecture – which I must say I terminated after about 30 seconds with a couple of words I can leave you to fill in.”
He said there were “other broadcasters they wouldn’t have done that to” and that the broadcaster was “siding with the vampires who didn’t like me anyway”.
Many pointed out that Lord Sugar was not sacked from his BBC job after making a similarly ill-advised Twitter post comparing the Senegal football team to beach hawkers in Spain.
What on earth was Danny Baker thinking? I don’t believe he’s racist but it was inappropriate and he should know the climate on Twitter when it comes to “outrage”
— Peter C. Barnes (@Barnesy19) May 9, 2019
After revealing he had been sacked, he updated his followers to say there were journalists knocking on his door. He further tried to explain himself and the choice of photograph, saying: “Would have used same stupid pic for any other Royal birth or Boris Johnson kid or even one of my own. It’s a funny image. (Though not of course in that context.)
“Enormous mistake, for sure. Grotesque. Anyway, here’s to ya Archie, Sorry mate.”
He had earlier said: “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.
“Soon as those good enough to point out it’s possible connotations got in touch, down it came. And that’s it.”
The 61-year-old, who presents a weekly show on BBC Radio 5 Live, had apologised on Wednesday evening, saying the joke was intended to poke fun at the Royal family.
Just got fired from @bbc5live.
For the record – it was red sauce. Always.
— Danny Baker (@prodnose) May 9, 2019
Ha! I see my silly unthinking gag pic earlier has me trending. Last time that happened it had been announced I had head cancer. On balance…
— Danny Baker (@prodnose) May 8, 2019
He said: “Once again. Sincere apologies for the stupid unthinking gag pic earlier. Was supposed to be joke about Royals vs circus animals in posh clothes but interpreted as about monkeys & race, so rightly deleted.
“Royal watching not my forte. Also, guessing it was my turn in the barrel.”
Later on Thursday afternoon, he tweeted the theme tune to Curb Your Enthusiasm.
— Danny Baker (@prodnose) May 9, 2019
Lifelong Millwall supporter Baker appeared on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here in 2016. It is not the first time he has been in hot water with the BBC.
In 2012, he delivered an extraordinary on-air rant criticising BBC bosses for dropping his afternoon show and asking him to stay quiet about it.
He has also been sacked by 5 Live before. In 1997, he was fired for encouraging listeners to heckle a referee.
Baker took several months out of radio after announcing in November 2010 he had cancer. He started chemotherapy and radiotherapy the following January and was given the all clear in June 2011 and returned to radio shortly afterwards.
Controversial departures from the BBC
Blue Peter presenter Richard Bacon was sacked in 1998 after he admitted taking cocaine.
Addressing his departure from the popular children’s show, the then head of BBC children’s programmes Lorraine Heggessey said: “It is sad that such a talented presenter as Richard Bacon has not only let himself and his colleagues down but, most important of all, he has let down the millions of children who watch Blue Peter.”
Bacon, who was 22 at the time, said: “I have been stupid and regret making a silly mistake experimenting with drugs.
“But I have learned the lesson the hard way and I hope it serves as a lesson to lots of other young people. I would also like to apologise to all loyal Blue Peter viewers.”
The TV and radio host eventually left the BBC under a cloud after the fallout of his and Russell Brand’s lewd messages to Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs.
A pre-recorded edition of The Russell Brand Show aired on Radio 2 in October 2008
Sachs was scheduled to be interviewed over the phone on the show. Shortly before he was called, Brand told listeners: “In a minute we’re going to be talking to Andrew Sachs, Manuel actor. The elephant in the room is, what Andrew doesn’t know is, I’ve slept with his granddaughter.”
When Brand and fellow Radio 2 DJ Jonathan Ross, who was co-hosting, tried to call Sachs during the pre-record, he does not pick up.
Ross and Brand left Sachs four voice messages on the then 78-year-old’s home phone, during which Brand joked about the fact that both he and Sachs had appeared on The Bill.
Ross is recorded shouting: “He f—– your daughter”, much to the ribald laughter of everyone in the studio. This sparked a run of messages that were, nominally, Brand and Ross trying to apologise for the outburst, but swiftly became increasingly offensive.
Later in the show, Brand joked about Sachs committing suicide in the wake of the revelations, saying: “The main news again. Manuel Andrew Sachs hung himself today . . .’”
Despite the fact the show was pre-recorded, producers and executives at the BBC greenlit it to be aired on the radio, and didn’t cut the recording of the voice messages left on Sachs’s phone.
The Corporation later said that “a senior editorial figure signed off the programme, including its strong language, before it was broadcast”.
Lesley Douglas, Controller of Radio 2, resigned within two weeks and Ross was suspended without pay from all BBC shows for three months.
Ross later left the BBC in January 2010, saying: “I think it’s not a bad time for me to move on. It’s possibly not a bad time for them either”.
On March 25, 2015, Jeremy Clarkson was told his BBC career was over and that Top Gear would continue without.
The presenter had failed to maintain “standards of decency and respect” at work, Lord Hall said.
Clarkson was found guilty of “a physical altercation accompanied by sustained and prolonged verbal abuse of an extreme nature” that left his victim, Oisin Tymon, in need of hospital treatment at an A&E department.
Announcing the news, previously reported in the Telegraph, Lord Hall said: “It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson today that the BBC will not be renewing his contract. It is not a decision I have taken lightly.
“I know how popular the programme is and I also know that this decision will divide opinion.”
It was the straw that broke the camel’s back for the broadcaster, having sparred with the controversial presenter for a number of years.