Colin Murray’s regrets over Balding row... but he’s still irked by BBC reaction
Colin Murray has spoken for the first time about the infamous crude remarks he made over Clare Balding’s sexuality on his radio show — admitting they went too far.
But the Belfast presenter also voiced anger at the handling of the live radio gaffe at the BBC, saying the national broadcaster only apologised to “kill the story”.
Murray made headlines back in June when the BBC apologised to the gay Balding after her sexuality was raised during the Radio 5 Live Fighting Talk panel show, which he hosted.
The broadcaster received 19 complaints from listeners after Murray hosted a panel during which his popular colleague’s sexuality was deemed to have been mocked.
Murray had asked contestants — during a section called defend the indefensible — to argue: “Give me 20 minutes with her and I’m pretty sure I could turn around Clare Balding.”
In an interview with The Guardian, Murray — who has left 5 Live for rival talkSPORT — voiced a mixture of regret it happened and anger at what followed.
He said: “The minute I said it, the second I said it, you know as a presenter, everyone on the team knew, that was over the line. It was just too much.”
The 36-year-old says he was caught unaware because of production difficulties and did not know he was going to have to talk about Ms Balding.
He said: “I would love to have said ‘I didn't see it before it went on air, we take responsibility as a team, this is how we messed up', and there was no place to do that.
“You've no idea how it affects your mum, that people are coming up to her and going ‘he says he can turn Clare Balding'.
“I never said I could turn Clare Balding, I never made that statement. It's hugely upsetting.”
Last month, London-based Murray prompted accusations of sexism when he suggested — at the Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium — the perfect athlete would combine “the stamina of Mo (Farah), the speed of (Usain) Bolt, the leap of (Greg) Rutherford and the bottom of Jessica Ennis”.
Yesterday a spokeswoman for Murray told the Belfast Telegraph he was busy with his talkSPORT show so wasn’t available to comment further.
1994: Trainee journalist at the News Letter, Belfast
1999: Co-presenter, Radio 1’s Session in Northern Ireland
2002: Channel 4 breakfast programme RI:SE
2003: Radio 1 show
2006: Fighting Talk on Radio 5 Live, Channel 5 football
2009: Leaves for 5 Live
2010: Match Of The Day 2
2013: Joins talkSPORT, a UTV-owned station.