DANNY BAKER has been axed by the BBC for comparing the new mixed-race royal baby to a chimpanzee.
The presenter tweeted an old photo of a well-dressed couple holding hands with a chimp — and captioned it: ‘Royal baby leaves hospital.’
Public fury erupted at the 61-year-old’s ‘joke’ about Archie Mountbatten-Windsor — whose dad Prince Harry was presented with a babygrow yesterday during a trip to the Netherlands. Baker denied he was a racist and said the Beeb had thrown him ‘under the bus’ by firing him from his Saturday morning show on Radio 5 Live. He claimed he was not an avid royal watcher — and had not realised it was the part-African American Duchess of Sussex who had become a mum.
Wearing a fez as he spoke to reporters at the door of his London home, he explained: ‘My go-to photo when any posh people have a baby is this absurd chimpanzee in a top hat leaving the hospital.
‘I didn’t know which of our royal princesses had given birth. Otherwise you’d got to be thinking I’d been secretly waiting to make this grotesque joke. There’s no truth to it.’
Baker, who was in I’m A Celebrity in 2016, said he would have used the same ‘stupid pic’ if Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg had become a father, adding: ‘Enormous mistake, for sure. Anyway, here’s to ya Archie, sorry mate.’
Critics accused him of making a ‘non-apology’, with ITV News host Charlene White tweeting: ‘To post a pic picturing a three-day-old baby of mixed heritage as a monkey, then claim it was a joke? That’s old-school prejudice and racism at its peak.’
Haringey Council leader Joseph Ejiofor wrote: ‘I’m disgusted by the hate and racism inherent in his tweet — unforgivable. He’s not fit to be a broadcaster employed from the public purse.’ One of the few to express sympathy was Irish comedian Dara O Briain, host of BBC2 show Mock The Week. He said the tweet was wrong but added: ‘He immediately apologised and deleted it! I mean, literally, in the event of mistakenly causing offence, what else can you do? Genuinely amazed by that.’
Baker joked about his appearance with reporters, saying: ‘You would have thought I’d have had a shave and put something else on. I look like the downbeat racist wretch they all think I am.’ The broadcaster, who has published several books and is in the middle of a live tour, said he was ‘not particularly’ rattled by his firing.
But he tweeted: ‘The call to fire me was a masterclass of pompous faux-gravity. Took a tone that said I actually meant that ridiculous tweet and the BBC must uphold blah blah blah. Literally threw me under the bus.’
He added: ‘Could hear the suits’ knees knocking. #F***em.’
BBC Radio 5 Live controller Jonathan Wall told staff in an email: ‘I have just spoken to Danny Baker and let him know that he will no longer be presenting his weekly show with us.
‘Danny made a serious error of judgment on social media last night and it goes against the values we live and breathe on this radio station.’
It is the third time Baker has lost a BBC job. Radio 5 Live axed his football phone-in show in 1997 after he called on fans to make a referee’s life hell. And his BBC Radio London show was axed as part of cuts in 2012. He responded by calling bosses ‘pinheaded weasels’ live on air.
Baker revealed he had cancer of the mouth and throat in 2010 and has since announced he has beaten it.
The duchess has regularly faced racist abuse online. In 2016, Harry issued a statement saying ‘a line has been crossed’ and condemning the ‘outright sexism and racism of social media trolls’ towards Meghan.
■ DANNY BAKER’S sacking prompted questions about why the BBC didn’t fire Lord Sugar over a ‘racist’ tweet last year. In his ‘misjudged’ post, The Apprentice star, 72, compared Senegal’s football team to beach vendors in Marbella. One critic yesterday asked: ‘How has Lord Sugar still got his job?’ The BBC declined to comment.