Mastermind's Clive Myrie speaks out on racist abuse from viewers: 'I pity them'

·3 min read
WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 17/08/2021 - Programme Name: Mastermind S19 - TX: 23/08/2021 - Episode: Mastermind S19 - Generics (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: **STRICTLY EMBARGOED NOT FOR PUBLICATION BEFORE 00:01 ON TUESDAY 17TH AUGUST 2021** Clive Myrie - (C) Hindsight/Hat Trick Productions - Photographer: William Cherry/Press Eye
Clive Myrie, presenter of BBC quiz show Mastermind. (Hindsight/Hat Trick Productions/BBC)

Mastermind host Clive Myrie has spoken about the racist hate mail he’s received throughout his career at the BBC.

The 57-year-old newsreader has been the victim of a number of targeted messages during his time on television, after being raised in the 1970s watching far-right protests appear near his home in Bolton.

But rather than remain angry at those who feel the need to lash out in a racist fashion, Myrie instead feels “pity”.

Read more: Mastermind crowns youngest ever champion

“I walked into the BBC’s headquarters in London one morning a couple of years ago to prepare to read the television news that night,” he wrote in The Sun. “I decided to check the pigeonholes for mail.

“There was an envelope addressed to me, so I opened it. Inside was a card with a gorilla on the front and a message that said: ‘People like you shouldn’t be allowed on the telly.’

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 21: BBC News presenter Clive Myrie at the Edinburgh TV Festival on August 21, 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Ken Jack/Getty Images)
Clive Myrie – pictured in 2019 – grew up in Bolton in a proud Caribbean family (Ken Jack/Getty Images)

“A wave of anger came over me – which then subsided in a few seconds, turning to pity for the loser who took the trouble to buy the card, get a stamp, write the note and post it.”

Unfortunately, this sort of message is nothing new to Myrie, and he says that's why Black History Month remains so important in the UK.

"It is a necessary corrective to the losers who froth at the mouth over pigmentation. I grew up with pride in who I am and where I come from,” he said.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 10/08/2021 - Programme Name: Mastermind S19 - TX: 23/08/2021 - Episode: Mastermind S19 - Generics (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: **STRICTLY EMBARGOED NOT FOR PUBLICATION BEFORE 00:01 ON TUESDAY 10TH AUGUST 2021** Clive Myrie - (C) Hindsight/Hat Trick Productions - Photographer: William Cherry/Press Eye
Clive Myrie took over as host of Mastermind in August. (Hindsight/Hat Trick Productions/BBC)

"Showing that pride does not mean having to denigrate others. It should simply be an expression of the good men and women can do, whatever their complexion happens to be."

Read more: Mastermind seeking 'more diverse' contestants

​​Myrie previously spoke out about the racism he receives, but said his introduction to Mastermind this year – taking over from the legendary John Humphrys – has been “largely positive”, as society continues to be slightly more accepting.

John Humphrys with Mastermind champion Jonathan Gibson. (BBC/PA)
John Humphrys with Mastermind champion Jonathan Gibson. (BBC/PA)

“This is not something that happens every day. Every now and again someone will send an email or send a letter or a card or whatever, making their racist views known,” he told PA in August. 

“By and large, my days of getting angry are over. I’m way too long in the tooth for that – or getting upset, rather.

“Now, I just have nothing but pity for these people, that they can be so energised and exercised by the fact that someone might have a little bit more melanin in their skin than they do, that that somehow forces them to be abusive or horrible or whatever.”

He added: “I have nothing but pity for sad, loser racists. That’s what they are. They’re jokes.”

Watch: New Mastermind host Clive Myrie replaces John Humphreys after nearly two decades

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