Comic claims BBC sacked him for being ‘male and white’

Award-winning comedian Jon Holmes has placed the BBC at the centre of a damaging diversity row after claiming he was sacked from a Radio 4 show for being ‘white and male’.

Jon Holmes

The star has appeared on comedy sketch programme The Now Show for 18 years, but says BBC bosses have given him the push, telling him: “we’re recasting it with more women and diversity.”

He received a phonecall from the show’s producer who explained during the course of an “awkward conversation” that he was no longer part of the show.

“Should I, as a white man (through no fault of my own), be fired from my job because I am a white man? Arguably, yes. You may well think I’m c*** on the Now Show, and that’s fine, but to be told it’s because I’m the wrong sex and colour?

“I’m not sure that’s helpful to anyone’s cause.”

Punt and Dennis

Dozens of stars and campaigners have blasted the Beeb for their decision, with racial equality campaigner Trevor Phillips calling the decision “idiotic”.

“They are misunderstanding what the point of the diversity drive was about,” he added. “This sounds like somebody who is basically climbing their way up the greasy ladder and they think hiring black and Asian talent is part of what they have got to do to look good.”

John Holmes

Actress Maureen Lipman also leapt to Jon’s defence, saying: “We are talking about someone who has done some of the best work on radio,” she said. “It sounds unbelievable.”

Holmes, 47, has been a writer and performer on the show, presented by Outnumbered star Hugh Dennis and his comedy partner Steve Punt, since it was first broadcast in 1997.

A BBC spokesman has thanked Jon Holmes for his “excellent and memorable contributions” and added that “our comedy shows are constantly evolving and it is time to create opportunities for new regulars as the show returns this autumn.”