I have watched and enjoyed many episodes of the popular detective series Lewis and like many other people was familiar with the character of James Hathaway, who was played by Laurence Fox. However Laurence Fox's single appearance on Question Time last Thursday has probably taken his popularity up to a new level.
There will be many people across Britain who will have seen the programme or at least part of it and will have said, "Well done, Laurence".
A question was asked as to whether the Duke and Duchess of Sussex should profit from their royal status and Fiona Bruce asked Laurence Fox for his opinion. His answer was reasonable and measured but it was the prelude to one of the most alarming and yet encouraging exchanges I have seen on television recently.
Fiona Bruce then invited a contribution from an audience member who said: "Meghan has agreed to be Harry's wife and the press have torn her to pieces. Let's be really clear about what this is, let's call it by name - it's racism. She's a black woman and she has been torn to pieces." This drew groans from a sizeable section of the audience.
The audience member was not named on the programme but she was subsequently identified as university lecturer Rachel C Boyle.
She is a senior lecturer at Edge Hill University in Liverpool and researches 'race and ethnicity', but she is more than just an academic, she is an academic activist who uses the hashtag 'I am the hope and the dream of the slave'.
She has said: "Being a black academic researching race and ethnicity isn't easy. Having conversations with ill-informed privileged people isn't easy. But this is what I came to do."
"It's not racism," Fox responded from the panel. "We're the most tolerant, lovely country in Europe. It's so easy to just throw your charge of racism at everybody and it's starting to get boring now."
Ms Boyle was having none of that and described Fox as a "white privileged male", which led the actor to say that his colour and gender were immutable characteristics and he added: "You're being racist."
Afterwards she conceded that she had "upset a (majority white) audience (not a****)". She may not care what the audience thought of her petulant performance but why did she refer to the audience as "majority white"?
The programme was recorded in Liverpool, most of the audience were from Liverpool and according to the 2011 census almost 90% of the population of Liverpool identified as 'white' so it would have been surprising if it was not a 'majority white' audience.
Ms Boyle also reported that she had received a lot of abuse on Twitter but that positive responses far outweighed the negative and she tweeted "Thank you Twitter".
I'm not surprised by that because most people are not on Twitter and in truth the Twitterati are not representative of society.
The exchange was alarming because it exposed once again that we live in an age when many activist groups cultivate their sense of victimhood because they see that as a way to advance their cause.
Terms such as racist, xenophobe, Islamophobe and transphobe are weaponised in order to demonise particular viewpoints, to silence them and to shut down rational discussion. It's a form of bullying and a form of intolerance, and it is deeply unpleasant and illiberal.
It also displays an inherent arrogance as though the alternative view was not worthy of discussion and was so evil that it had to be silenced.
However, the exchange was also encouraging in that a popular public figure was prepared to 'call out' the intolerance and racism of the left. It was also good that he was prepared to stand up to the subsequent tirade of abuse.
We can only hope that others will be encouraged by this and that it will help in some small way to create an environment where freedom of speech is cherished, where genuine patriotism is valued and where the petulant and partisan politics of the Left is seen as just that, even if it is dressed up in academic garb.
Some years ago the appearance of a BNP leader on Question Time damaged his cause and I suspect the same may be true for Rachel C Boyle.