Fiona Bruce says she regrets not intervening to shut down John Rhys-Davies on Question Time when he attempted to undermine Green Party MP Caroline Lucas on the show in 2019.
The newsreader revealed that while she enjoyed the enthusiasm of participants and audience members, she didn’t like it when their passion escalated into “nastiness” and they “kicked off”.
Bruce also admitted that she was surprised that actor Laurence Fox’s appearance – during which he said Britain was not a racist country and conversely that a Black academic was being racist to him – became so controversial.
“Passionate, yes. Kicking off, not so much,” Bruce told Radio Times magazine. “I don’t like it when passion edges into nastiness and there was a lot of nastiness around Brexit in particular, a lot of division and fear. I remember more strongly the time we had another actor on [John Rhys-Davies] and he addressed Caroline Lucas as ‘woman’.
“I thought at the time, I should shut him down, and say, that is not how we say things here. We film the show as live and I always watch it back – which I don’t do with the news any more – to see if there is anything I should have done differently, and on that occasion I should have done.”
The Lord of the Rings actor infamously shouted “oh, woman!” at Lucas when she challenged him on his views over the success of US President Donald Trump.
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Question Time’s ratings went up when she took over the show from David Dimbleby in 2019, but she commented that “they’ve gone down recently because I think people are fed up of coronavirus”.
Bruce also disclosed that she doesn’t look at social media for the sake of her sanity, adding: “I rarely look at Twitter because that way can lie madness.
“But my husband did once show me two consecutive tweets: one said, ‘Fiona Bruce is to the left of Trotsky’ and the next one said, ‘Fiona Bruce has virtually turned this programme into a Conservative Party Broadcast’. So I have that in a little frame on my desk.”
And on whether she has any further TV ambitions she’d like to conquer, the journalist added: “Not at the moment. There should be. But you know, I’m 56 and I didn’t expect to be working at this age. Things have improved in that sense.”
If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide. Read the full interview with Fiona Bruce in the Radio Times magazine, available now.