Fiona Bruce apologises amid backlash over Question Time 'Black guy' comment

Viewers questioned why Bruce did not identify the man by his clothing - as she did with other audience members

Fiona Bruce indicated she would take a question from someone whom she identified by their race. (BBC)
Fiona Bruce indicated she would take a question from someone whom she identified by their race. (BBC)

BBC Question Time host Fiona Bruce has apologised after identifying an audience member by his race.

Her comment was subsequently edited out of the programme before it appeared on BBC iPlayer.

On Thursday's show, an audience member put his hand up to make a comment and Bruce indicated she would take his question by saying: "Your sir, the Black guy in the middle."

Her comment prompted a backlash on social media, where X (formerly Twitter) users questioned why Bruce had used race to identify the speaker when she had identified other audience members by items of clothing.

Under one post, a man wrote, "I am the black guy in the middle". On his own X profile, 'Bertie' wrote: "Why did you cut out Fiona Bruce saying "the black guy" in the BBC One showing of @bbcquestiontime last night? It was audible on the live showing on @BBCiPlayer

"Why edit it if you think she said nothing wrong?"

Responding following the backlash, Bruce said the clip had been changed because she felt it was "wrong" to identify the man by his race.

“I totally understand why my words last night caused offence and I apologise," Bruce said in a statement shared with Yahoo News.

"I have spoken to the audience member directly and explained that usually I can see and describe an item of clothing or otherwise to help sound engineers with a microphone find people in the audience. Last night that was not the case as my view was obscured.

"In the split second I had, the easiest thing to do would have been to ignore the audience member and move on, but I felt strongly that his voice should be heard. Nonetheless, I feel it was wrong to identify him as I did and that’s why it was removed from the later edited programme.”

BC presenter Fiona Bruce (left) during a visit to the Antiques Roadshow at the Eden Project in Bodelva, Cornwall. Picture date: Tuesday September 6, 2022.
BC presenter Fiona Bruce (left) came under fire for her comment on Question Time. (Alamy)

Race on Question Time

The topic of race has been previously raised on Question Time, after a panellist accused Bruce of only asking him a question about racism because of the colour of his skin.

Nazir Afzal was asked to comment on the topic of racism, and commented: "OK, the brown person will answer first". When he was asked by Bruce whether he felt it was wrong to ask him to comment before any of the other panel members, he responded "I did, yes".

Commenting on the recent row, Afzal told Yahoo News on Friday: "She could have easily said 'man in the blue top' as she described everybody else by their clothing. It is quite telling I’m afraid.

"It follows the time that a question about racism on the show was put to me first rather than the white members of the panel as if only people of colour should talk about racism."