Trisha Goddard: "I didn't force Leigh Francis to apologise"

12 June 2020, 18:49

Trisha Goddard in 2020
Trisha Goddard in 2020. Picture: Karwai Tang/WireImage/Getty

The presenter says she was "sickened" by the use of blackface to impersonate her on the series Bo' Selecta... and that her children were bullied as a result of the show

TV presenter Trisha Goddard has revealed that she "didn't force" comedian star Leigh Francis to apologise for impersonating her using blackface in his series Bo' Selecta... but that she was "sickened" by the portrayal.

The comedian took to social media last week to say sorry for using blackface for impressions of Goddard, Craig David and Michael Jackson.

But Trisha has spoken out about the "disgusting stuff" she was subjected to when people accused her of "forcing" the apology from the Keith Lemon comedian.

She told the BBC: "Under Leigh's apology... the racism, the remarks as a result, having a go at me because it was seen as me forcing him. I didn't force him, I didn't even ask him. He did that of his own volition. And all power to him for doing it. But people need to blame me, so I have gone through the most disgusting stuff.

Trisha also revealed that her children were subject to "vicious bullying" following the series, which aired on Channel Four in the 2000s.

The 62-year-old TV presenter explained that after she was mocked on Leigh Francis' show - which aired between 2002 and 2006 - her daughters Madison, 27, and Billie, 30, were taunted by other kids.

She described her reaction to the impersonation on Newsnight: "I hated it. I have only recently discovered how bullied my children were in Norfolk over the character.

"Let me be clear on this, if the parody was just of me, that would have been one thing, but it was the big lips... all the things that every black child has been bullied about."

"I can laugh at myself, I've had people joke about me. But it was the racial over-the-top with the big lips, the big wide hips, the rice and peas... I couldn't actually watch it."

Francis apologised in a video on Instagram earlier this week, in which the 47-year-old comedian admitted: "Back then I didn't think anything about it, people didn't say anything, I'm not going to blame other people.

"I've been talking to some people, I didn't realise how offensive it was back then.

"I just want to apologise, I just want to say sorry for any upset I caused, whether I was Michael Jackson, Craig David, Trisha Goddard, all people I'm a big fan of. I guess we're all on a learning journey."

Goddard explained that she'd actively avoided Francis in public: "A couple of times I did bump into Leigh. My daughter reminded me, she was with me once I couldn't even talk to him I felt so sick. Recently, at an awards do, he knows I walked away from him.”

Goddard put a message on Francis' Instagram when he shared the black square on Blackout Tuesday earlier this month - which prompted a wider discussion of the Bo' Selecta material.

She went on: "In his defence he had a long telephone conversation with my daughter who told her what she went through.

"She told him about the trolling, bullying, the viciousness as a direct result and he was horrified, being a father himself. He was absolutely horrified.

"I don't want to throw Leigh under the bus. But for an entire corporation to say yes, that's a great idea, let's commission it. If you're going to apologise, just the words aren't enough. It would be nice to see what measures they are taking to change the culture."