United Kingdom

Sir Geoffrey Boycott, 80, says BBC opted for 'equality over quality' for Test Match Special

Sir Geoffrey Boycott has criticised the BBC for 'sacrificing quality for equality' and holding its presenters to a standard of 'political correctness' that means they are 'frightened of saying anything'.

The 80-year-old cricketer left the BBC in June, where he worked as a commentator on Test Match Special for 14 years, with the BBC siting Boycott's quadruple heart bypass as the reason for his retirement.

With his outspoken views taken off air, he was replaced by Isa Guha, a former England women’s cricketer, the recently retired Sir Alastair Cook and the England cricket team's James Anderson.

Sir Geoffrey Boycott has criticised the BBC for 'sacrificing quality for equality'

But now, after complaints from many listeners over the new line up, Sir Geoffrey shared his opinion on the broadcaster, telling The Daily Telegraph: 'They have sacrificed quality for equality. It is now all about political correctness, about gender and race. When you work for them you are wary and frightened of saying anything.

'It is a minefield out there and that is sad.'

He added his prediction that in the years to come the BBC may be thrust 'out into the real world' if a government refuses to continue funding the organisation.

He added: 'It is not run particularly well.'

Following an interview with the BBC on the subject of his Knighthood in September last year, Sir Geoffrey said he felt 'sand-bagged' by Radio 4's presenter Martha Kearney on the Today Programme. 

Isa Guha presenting the live BBC coverage before the 2nd Vitality International Twenty20 match between England and Pakistan at Emirates Old Trafford on August 30th, 2020

Kearney had brought up the topic of domestic abuse during the interview, Sir Geoffrey was convicted in France in 1998 of beating his girlfriend in a hotel. 

The incident, for which he was given a three-month suspended prison sentence, fined £5,000 and ordered to pay one franc in compensation after being accused of raining 20 punches on his then-girlfriend, divorcee Margaret Moore, has cast a long shadow over his career and reputation.  

Sir Geoffrey told The Daily Telegraph that he felt the interview had 'spoilt' what 'should have been one of the nicest days of my life' as he received the accolade.

He added: 'You expect better from the BBC, don’t you? But it’s not the BBC it used to be.'   

England and Yorkshire batsman Geoffrey Boycott poses circa 1965

Asked about criticism from a Women’s Aid chief that his honour sent a ‘dangerous message’ about domestic abuse, 78-year-old Boycott responded: ‘I don’t give a toss about her, love. It’s 25 years ago, so you can take your political nature and do whatever you want with it.

‘You want to talk to me about my knighthood, it’s very nice of you to have me, but I couldn’t give a toss.’

Following an interview with the BBC on the subject of his Knighthood in September last year, Sir Geoffrey said he felt 'sand-bagged'

Claiming that he had been the victim of attempted blackmail, he said his experience of French courtrooms where ‘you’re guilty until you’re proved innocent — totally the opposite of England’ was one of the reasons he voted to leave the EU.

‘It is very difficult to prove you are innocent in another country, another language,’ he said, adding: ‘It’s a cross I have to bear, right or wrong, good or bad. I have to live with it, and I do because I am clear in my mind . . . it is not true.’

Exactly what happened in the £1,000- a-night hotel on the French Riviera on October 2, 1996, has been argued about ever since.

Two cases in France settled the matter in Mrs Moore’s favour and, as the retired sportsman said during the interview, he has had to live with the consequences.

After being diagnosed with cancer in 2002 Sir Geoffrey said he still gets 'mad and angry' but now gets over issues quicker, The Telegraph reports.

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