Belfast Telegraph

Let’s be honest, all this sniping at Christine Bleakley is really a hate crime

By Gail Walker

Until a few days ago the constant sniping at Christine Bleakley was an irritation — a growing one — but an irritation nonetheless.

But now it’s become much nastier. Not content with the usual semi-literate posts about her accent and appearance, trolls crouched over their keyboards hiding their identities behind closed curtains in suburbia posted that she “deserves to die”. Yes, you read that correctly. Die.

Just to remind everyone, Christine Bleakley co-presents Dancing on Ice, a light entertainment show about celebs trying to skate. She wears glam dresses, talks to Torvill and Dean and laughs a lot. That’s not to belittle Christine — there’s been enough of that already. Live TV is tough; her skill is in making it look easy. But it’s not politics. She’s not shoving unpalatable views in anyone’s face. Or making abusive calls to pensioners, lying about their grand-daughter. Or cracking jokes about disabled children. So, what sparks such venom? When Brummies, Scousers, Geordies and Scots can all be on TV without comment, can her slight Ulster accent really provoke such vitriol? Or are other factors at play?

Perhaps, absurd as it may be, there are those who begrudge Christine her big money deal when she moved from the BBC to ITV. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance of a better paid job? But for some it always rankles more when it’s a woman. A high earning dad they can handle — well, he’s got family commitments — but a young single woman! What does she need it for? Shoes!

Or maybe some are riled that Christine didn’t just make off with a top TV job, but also nabbed England footballing icon Frank Lampard? Or is it because she’s going to be stepmum to Lampard’s daughters? If she were a bloke marrying a partner with children from a previous relationship, she’d be praised for taking on a ready-made family. How big of him, they’d say.

To her huge credit, Christine has handled this latest disgusting episode with typical dignity, branding the fuss as “ridiculous”. In the meantime, let’s hope the police treat these remarks as the hate crime they represent. If Christine was black or Asian or gay, rest assured they would be doing so.

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