Lord Alan Sugar has been mocked after claiming he and his wife ‘could not understand a word’ of Martin Freeman’s Scouse accent in BBC drama The Responder.
The Apprentice star hit out at the programme in a series of tweets, in which he claimed he struggled to follow what the cast were saying.
But the business mogul has since faced an intense backlash from locals in Liverpool, where the thriller is based, who defended the actor’s twang as ‘spot on’.
He wrote: ‘Why did the BBC make Martin Freeman speak with a Liverpool accent in The Responder. Hard to follow what he and other cast are saying.
‘No disrespect to people of Liverpool they are nice down to earth people. My wife gave up watching she said she could not understand a word.’
Lord Alan Sugar has been mocked after claiming he and his wife ‘could not understand a word’ of Martin Freeman’s Scouse accent in BBC drama The Responder
Martin Freeman himself confessed earlier this week that he spoke to himself in a Liverpudlian accent for a year and a half in preparation for The Responder
Lord Sugar was inundated with more than 2,000 replies to his controversial tweet, including from Hollywoods star Matt Littler, who told him: ‘It’s…it’s set in liverpool. That’s… I’m not sure how to answer.’
The tycoon replied: ‘It might be set in Liverpool. I can understand Steven Gerrard. I can’t understand the character. Sorry but true.’
Sue Lee, a columnist and former editor of the Liverpool Echo newspaper also responded.
She told the Mirror: ‘As a born and bred Scouser I’m hypersensitive when non Liverpudlians try to imitate how I speak. Get it right and it’s flattering. Get it wrong and I’d sooner hear fingernails scraping their way down a blackboard.
‘For my money Martin Freeman gets the Scouse twang spot on. Yes, it’s a bit thicker than the way I talk but, like the city itself, our tongue is a glorious hot-potch of people, languages and history.
‘As someone once sang – it’s an accent exceedingly rare. Sorry Lord Sugar. If your ears can’t tune into that there’s only one thing for it – you’re fired!’
It is not the first time Lord Sugar has sparked controversy on social media, after a racist tweet in 2018 in which he compared Senegal footballers to Marbella beach sellers.
Hundreds of people slammed The Apprentice host’s tweet and others called for his sacking – but he initially failed to back down, criticising the ‘OTT’ reaction to a ‘bloody joke’.
The tweet was eventually removed 23 minutes later – but Lord Sugar, 71, insisted this was only because it was ‘interpreted in the wrong way as offensive by a few people’.
Freeman himself confessed earlier this week that he spoke to himself in a Liverpudlian accent for a year and a half in preparation for The Responder.
The actor, 50, who stars as former first responder Chris Carson in the series based upon a true story, admitted he’s ‘not always the best judge’ of himself though.
Having filmed the series on the streets of Liverpool, The Hobbit star revealed he ‘followed his ear’, having spent a lot of time speaking to residents of the city.
He told Metro: ‘I walked around for a year and a half, occasionally just talking to myself in scouse. Even though you’re not always the best judge of your own thing, I do trust my ear.
‘If I say something, I know when it sounds off. I got very, very exact about that stuff. You have to be, because if I don’t do it well, it’s a terrible accent to get wrong.
He went on to joke: ‘There are some accents where you don’t want to be in that city among the inhabitants of that city making a balls up of it.’
The six-part miniseries is written by ex-police officer Tony Schumacher, with the story following crisis-stricken, unconventional officer Chris as he works a series night shifts while on the beat.
His character battles to keep things together both professionally and personally as his marriage is on the rocks, while he’s also struggling with his mental health.
With Chris forced to work with new rookie partner Rachel (Adelayo Adedayo), both officers will have learn that in order to survive the high-pressure and unabating environment of the night shift, they’ll have to work together.