Miriam Margolyes 'Can't Regret' Controversial Boris Johnson Coronavirus Comment: 'I Was Thinking Aloud'

The actor sparked a backlash with her appearance on The Last Leg back in May.

Miriam Margolyes has admitted she “can’t regret” making a controversial comment about Boris Johnson’s battle with coronavirus during an appearance on The Last Leg earlier this year.

The Call The Midwife star faced a backlash in May when she admitted on the Channel 4 show that she’d initially wanted the prime minister to die when he was hospitalised with the virus in April.

She told hosts Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker via video link: “I had difficulty not wanting Boris Johnson to die. I wanted him to die. Then I thought that will reflect badly on me and I don’t want to be the sort of person that wants people to die.

“So then I wanted him to get better, which he did do, he did get better. But he didn’t get better as a human being. And I really would prefer that.”

Miriam Margolyes
Miriam Margolyes

Speaking about the reaction her comments were met with, Miriam has stood by what she said, explaining she had been describing her thought process.

She told The Times (£): “The first half of the sentence said one thing and the last half of the sentence said completely the opposite, but I was referred to as ‘worse than Hitler’.

“I was thinking aloud, I was describing my thought processes.”

She continued: “I can’t regret telling the truth. Daddy always said you must have a golden reputation, you must never do anything wrong and I don’t do anything wrong, in my view. I always try and do the right thing.”

Last month, Ofcom confirmed that The Last Leg would not face a formal investigation over Miriam’s comment, after it received 494 complaints.

The TV watchdog ruled that her remark would not have exceeded viewers’ expectations, with a spokesperson saying: “These provocative comments had clear potential to offend viewers, but we also considered the audience’s likely expectations of Miriam Margolyes, a comic actor known for her forthright views, and of this live, late-night satirical comedy show.

“We also took into account that Ms Margolyes immediately qualified her comments, and viewers were warned in advance about the programme’s adult humour.”

Ofcom cited “a long tradition in UK broadcasting of satirical programmes where comedy will be derived from contributors making provocative and challenging statements about people in the public eye, including elected politicians”.

Boris Johnson was hospitalised with Covid-19 in April
Boris Johnson was hospitalised with Covid-19 in April

It also “took into account that the presenter, Adam Hills, and regular contributors, Alex Brooker and Josh Widdicombe looked visibly shocked in reaction to Miriam Margolyes’ initial comment, and that none of the presenters endorsed her comments about the Prime Minister.

“Further, Adam Hills immediately moved the discussion on to another topic,” it said.

“It was Ofcom’s view that, although Miriam Margolyes’ comments were provocative and had the potential to cause offence, taken as a whole they were unlikely to have exceeded viewers’ expectations of this live, late-night comedy show on Channel 4.”

A spokesperson for the show previously told HuffPost UK: “The programme is live and unexpected comments can happen. In this instance Miriam went on to say that she wanted him to get better.”


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