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Madness of the moment

Stephen James-Yeoman | 12:40 UK time, Tuesday, 7 August 2007

There’s one personality amongst Catherine Tate’s menagerie of characters with which I can most closely relate. Thankfully I’m not talking about Lauren the cheeky teenager but the awkward party guest who can’t help but put her foot into it - usually in spectacular and toe-curling fashion.

Breakfast logoAs always, observational comedy is at its best when it’s accurate and so to 9.09am on Friday morning as the eloquent and debonair Rupert Everett graced the Breakfast sofa to talk about the paperback release of his autobiography Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins.

Like Catherine Tate’s caricature, Rupert surprised our viewers with a comment that at best can be described as startling, and at worst, lewd. In response to an innocuous question from Susanna Reid about how Julie Andrews’ Oscar winning performance as Mary Poppins first lured him into showbusiness, he unfortunately described how, until he’d seen the quintessential English nanny, he’d thought rural cinemas were places where you were able to become intimate with your girlfriend.

Rupert EverettI’m not going to spell out here exactly what he said (it won’t take you long to find it in its colourful glory elsewhere on the ‘net) but needless to say some of those watching weren’t best pleased that the actor who can currently be heard as the voice of Prince Charming in the latest child-orientated Shrek film felt the need to be so graphic on morning television. And Susanna and co-presenter Charlie Stayt are to be commended on their appropriate reactions and swift on air apology.

Daily, I mentally applaud the bravery of the guests which we subject to live television. We don’t quite have the smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd, but certainly with the knowledge that there are millions of people watching, the madness of the moment can sometimes get the better of even the most seasoned of performers.

I am convinced that this is what happened with our Hollywood star.

Were his comments inappropriate? Certainly. Were they deliberate? Certainly not. I greeted him as he came off air and I was struck by two things. Firstly, he looked much taller in real life and secondly he was mortified by his slip of the tongue. He walked into the corridor with a hand framing either side of his unshaven face. “I can’t believe I said that,” he apologised. “I am so sorry, it just slipped out”.

The abnormality of conversation under the watchful gaze of millions of viewers had, in my opinion, tripped Mr Everett, a man who makes a living from saying other people’s words. He visually flinches as soon as he makes his childhood recollection and I’ve no doubt his apology once he’d come off air was sincere. There is one thing I am sure of. You can’t get a more innocent question than one which features Mary Poppins and Julie Andrews and this won’t be the last time a guest shocks us on live television.


  • 1.
  • At 02:40 PM on 07 Aug 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

Honestly, inviting Rupey onto the box and then expressing 'surprise' when he swears is a little like running a telly piece about a puppy and then expressing surprise and dismay when he barks.

Have you never seen Rupert on the 'Swing when you're winning' concert with Robbie Williams ? This is Rupert Everett - it's what he does. Some stations would demand a refund if he didn't swear.

  • 2.
  • At 02:43 PM on 07 Aug 2007,
  • John Hailey wrote:

I just found the "lewd comment" on the internet and i have to say you must be joking! An eight paragraph article apologising for an actor using an expression an innocent mind wouldn't know the meaning of!? Give me strength!

It would seem there are still far too many people in this country who feel that sexual behaviour is the ultimate taboo and should never be discussed before the watershed. Personally I think all you have done is drawn more attention to it.

And as for the presenters "appropraite reactions"? Well from what i have read Susanna Reid giggled like a schoolgirl before realising she should apologise and Charlie appeared to be as embarrased as a teenager when his parents talk about sex.

As for the THREE people who complained, grow up!

  • 3.
  • At 04:06 PM on 07 Aug 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

It's really annoying when you write something where the central issue is a rude word, yet you don't tell us what that rude word is. The people who read this website are adults, I would safely assume.

  • 4.
  • At 08:19 PM on 07 Aug 2007,
  • Alexander wrote:

I can only imagine the thoughts going through the presenters' heads when something like that happens. To us it looks a little funny and is soon forgotten, but for Charlie and Susanna it was 'work going wrong' and that's got to be scary for anyone.

We've heard what it was like from the editor's point of view, and we've heard about the guest's reaction, but I'd be fascinated if you could ask one of the presenters what their reaction is to unexpected (and potentially embarrassing) scenes like today's.

  • 5.
  • At 09:31 PM on 07 Aug 2007,
  • The Holy ettlz wrote:

What an awful lot of fuss about nothing. Really. I mean, most of us have eight of... these things-we-can't-mention-here and (clue) they're not found on our feet. "Breakfast" is already such a boring, sedate programme, and people are complaining about this?!

I now remember watching this as I ate my Strawberry Crisp. As I recall, the only thing going through my mind was, "Is there something more interesting on ITV 3"?

  • 6.
  • At 11:13 PM on 07 Aug 2007,
  • Ant wrote:

Just grow up. It is Breakfast televison, CBBC is on another channel. You talk about Maary Poppins - well you should stop nannying US thank you very much.
What does your lengthy piece reveal to us? Nothing.

  • 7.
  • At 10:26 AM on 08 Aug 2007,
  • John Allen wrote:

People's shouldn't point the finger; live TV must sometimes be daunting, even for an experienced actor.

All this finger-wagging simply draws attention to a regrettable slip-up.

It's not as if he swore or flipped a finger at the camera.

  • 8.
  • At 10:31 AM on 08 Aug 2007,
  • Sophie wrote:

I think it's charmingly old-fashioned - no one uses that term anymore!

To Ian in comment 3 - I don't think it's particularly necessary to finger this one specific word.

  • 10.
  • At 02:43 PM on 08 Aug 2007,
  • Kate Davies wrote:

I too have just found this comment on the net and can't BELIEVE that there are such complaints about something so minor! This phrase was also used by the Little Britain character Vicky Pollard - and how many children in recent years been watching this programme? Loads! I went to see it performed live and couldn't believe how many children - some definitely under the age of 12 - were present in the audience. I think the lovely Rupert Everett can be forgiven! And honestly - how many children actually WATCH breakfast television, when there are so many other DVDs and gameboys / nintendos that they can play with??!! (sarcasm intended...!)

  • 11.
  • At 08:18 PM on 08 Aug 2007,
  • Andy Tedd wrote:

"Have you never seen Rupert on the 'Swing when you're winning' concert with Robbie Williams ? This is Rupert Everett - it's what he does. Some stations would demand a refund if he didn't swear."

Bedd - It is in fact considerably more ironic than you might imagine - the BBC's Editorial Policy training course (completed by 16000 staff in 2004/5) has a scenario dealing with fruity on-air contributions - starring guess who? :)

I guess the training worked if the matter was dealt with to Stephen's satisfaction, but the idea that Rupert Everett did not know what he is up to is highly amusing given his form.

Stephen - he is a very talented actor - how can you be sure he wasn't acting with you?

  • 12.
  • At 04:38 PM on 10 Aug 2007,
  • IanH wrote:

Rupert has form - he even got Jonathan Ross flustered when he when he swore on his morning Radio 2 show. As a producer I am sure you would know this.

  • 13.
  • At 02:57 PM on 11 Aug 2007,
  • Simon Shaw wrote:

"It is not the first time Everett - currently to be heard voicing Prince Charming in animated sequel Shrek the Third - has caused upset on the BBC. Last September, Jonathan Ross was forced to apologise to listeners after Everett swore on his Radio Two programme. "

(from the BBC report linked to in the OP)

If Mr Everett does it a third time, will he be banned from the BBC?

  • 14.
  • At 11:00 AM on 12 Aug 2007,
  • Alan wrote:

I didn't see, but heard of, the incident. If I had seen it, much as everyone above, I probably wouldn't have realised it was an incident.

A complete over-reaction.

  • 15.
  • At 04:25 PM on 14 Aug 2007,
  • Amy P wrote:

I never expected to see such a fuss - honestly! What happened was clearly a slip of the tongue and it was indeed the presenters reactions that prevented it from passing by. Of course it was right to apologise, but surely the professional thing would have been to move swiftly on rather than draw further attention to it.

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