David Baddiel has said that there are no examples of him ever being misogynistic despite being one of the “poster boys” for the lad generation in the 1990s.
However, the comedian admitted that some of the things he did back then – including appearing on a men’s magazine cover next to a woman whose top is being pulled off – were “not great”.
Baddiel was one of the most popular comics of the decade for his partnerships with stand-up Rob Newman and then Frank Skinner on their Fantasy Football League TV show, followed by their hit football anthem Three Lions for the Euro 1996 tournament.
Asked by Kirsty Young on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs about how he feels now, looking back from a Me Too era perspective, about being one of the leading figures of the “badly-behaved generation of men”, Baddiel said: “Well, I’m comfortable if you actually go and look at the work, because truth is always in the detail.”
Baddiel referred to his “brilliant” friend, comedian and writer Alexei Sayle, who several years ago referred to he and Skinner in an interview as being “misogynistic”.
The comic said Sayle’s comment did not cause them to “fall out”, but that he did challenge him over it.
Baddiel said: “I said: ‘Alexei, why have you said this? Can you show me any example of us being misogynistic?’
“And he said: ‘No, I can’t, sorry – I just said it.'”
Young replied that perhaps Sayle had not seen Baddiel and Skinner on the front cover of lad culture magazine Loaded in 1996, which saw Skinner pulling the football shirt from her body and in which they were both “looking leery at her”.
Baddiel replied: “I’m not looking leery, actually.”
He added: “I’m not going to claim in any way that that Loaded thing was OK and great, but I’m going to claim that if you actually look at it, I’m covering my testicles in a terrified way, which obviously is a reference to being in the wall in football.
“But I would say, I’m not just going: ‘Here are my genitals, here I am being proud of being a man in this situation.’
“I’m being funny about it, as best I can in a situation which, I admit, is kind of like, not great.”
Loaded, which ceased publication in 2015 but still exists online, was marketed as the magazine “for men who should know better”.
Baddiel also told Young of how much of an impact Three Lions, performed with The Lightning Seeds, had on his life.
He chose the song as one his tracks on the radio broadcast, “because the singing of that at Wembley, that is an extraordinary, extraordinary moment in my life.
“I can’t not have that to remind me of it on the desert island,” he added, referring to it being sung at the England vs Scotland game at the Euro 1996 tournament.
“It still, as I’m speaking now, the goosepimples are rising on my flesh. I cannot believe that happened.”
Desert Island Discs is on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday May 27 at 11.15am.