BBC defends “homophobic” viral interview with gay actor Andrew Scott

Andrew Scott in All of Us Strangers
Andrew Scott in All of Us Strangers. Photo: Chris Harris/Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

BBC News has responded to backlash to its recent red-carpet interview with out actor Andrew Scott, saying that it had intended for its reporter’s questions about fellow Irish actor Barry Keoghan’s Saltburn nude scene to be “light hearted.”

A clip from the interview at the 77th British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) on February 18 went viral last week, with many social media commenters describing BBC correspondent Colin Paterson’s line of questioning as inappropriate and borderline homophobic, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In the clip, Paterson asked Scott, whose film All of Us Strangers was nominated for six BAFTA awards, whether he knew Keoghan well — both actors are Irish. Scott said that he did, and Paterson proceeded to ask about Scott’s reaction to Keoghan’s nude dance at the end of Saltburn. A visibly uncomfortable Scott simply replied that he didn’t want to spoil the film for anyone who hadn’t seen it yet.

“There was a lot of talk about prosthetics. How well do you know him?” Paterson persisted, perhaps suggesting that Scott would have been able to tell whether Keoghan was sporting a prosthetic in the scene. Scott ended the interview, walking away without responding to the question.

On Friday, BBC News released a statement acknowledging the backlash, while largely defending Paterson’s questions.

“We received complaints from people who felt a question asked to Andrew Scott on the Bafta red carpet was inappropriate and homophobic,” the February 23 statement read.

The network noted that Paterson had asked Scott about his own film before moving on to questions about Irish actors, at which point the reporter brought up Keoghan and Saltburn.  

“Our question to Andrew Scott was meant to be a light hearted reflection of the discussion around the scene and was not intended to cause offence,” the BBC’s statement continued. It also noted that Saltburn writer/director Emerald Fennell and pop star Sophie Ellis-Bextor, whose song “Murder on the Dancefloor” was used in the scene, were also asked about it. They weren’t asked about Keoghan’s possible use of prosthetics.

“We do, however, accept that the specific question asked to Andrew Scott was misjudged,” the BBC said. “After speaking with Andrew on the carpet, our reporter acknowledged on air that his questioning may have gone too far and that he was sorry if this was the case.”

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