BBC presenter steps down from show after Jewish comments

Reggie Yates apologizes for reference to 'fat Jewish guy from northwest London.'

December 5, 2017 15:30
2 minute read.
BBC host Reggie Yates

BBC host Reggie Yates. (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA)


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British actor and TV host Reggie Yates will be stepping down from his position hosting the Top of the Pops Christmas and New Year’s specials after comments he made were perceived as antisemitic.

Yates, who has hosted the music countdown show for many years, including when it was a weekly program, apologized last month for what he said on a podcast. Speaking to Halfcast podcast host Chuckie Lothian in early November, Yates said: “The thing that makes it great about this new generation of [music] artists is that they ain’t signing to majors... They’re independent, they’re not managed by some random fat Jewish guy from northwest London, they’re managed by their brethren... So it’s amazing to see now the example isn’t get hot and then give all of your publishing to these idiots. Or go and give all of your rights to these dickheads over here.”

The relationship between Jewish agents and managers and black musicians has long been a complex, heated topic.

Yates’s comment got traction later in the month in British media, and the TV presenter apologized then for his “flippant” remarks. But on Monday, he went a step further, announcing that he will step down from hosting this year’s Top of the Pops shows on BBC.

Writing on Twitter, Yates said he made some “ill-considered remarks which have hurt many people. I can see clearly that the words I used reinforced offensive stereotypes and that there is no context which would justify such remarks.” He added that he wanted to “apologize unreservedly to the Jewish community.”

“This has been, and continues to be a huge learning experience for me, and on reflection I have taken the decision to step down from hosting Top of the Pops this year.”

In reaction, a BBC spokesperson said: “We take these issues very seriously and Reggie is in no doubt about the BBC’s view of his comments.”

The Top of the Pops holiday specials are an iconic part of British pop culture and are watched by millions.

When Yates’s comments first surfaced, the UK Campaign Against Antisemitism said they “will evoke the ugly stereotype of Jews as untrustworthy and money-grabbing. Apologies for any offense caused are easy to issue, but these bigoted remarks came from somewhere, and Mr. Yates should reflect long and hard on his prejudice.”

In a separate conversation during the same podcast, Yates discussed his recently published book, Unseen: My Journey. The book, he said, was dedicated to Anna Scher, who founded a communal drama school in north London in 1968.

“I wouldn’t be sitting with you now if this woman didn’t exist,” Yates said. “This is a Jewish woman in her 70s who opened up this community club, this charity, for local kids who couldn’t afford to express themselves in places that would charge... Anna gave a platform to people like us.”

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