Eamonn Holmes in race storm as ITV reprimands presenter for calling Meghan Markle ‘uppity’ because the word was used in the 19th century to insult black people
- Eamonn Holmes described Meghan Markle as ‘uppity’ on This Morning
- A viewer complained to ITV’s network head of diversity Ade Rawcliffe
- The complainant said ‘uppity’ was used as a 19th century insult to black people
- ITV defended the presenter claiming he was unaware of the 19th century useage
This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes has been reprimanded by ITV bosses for describing Meghan Markle as ‘uppity’ because the term has racial connotations.
It followed a complaint from a viewer after Holmes discussed an incident in which security personnel tried to stop tennis fans taking photos of the Duchess of Sussex at Wimbledon.
The TV host said: ‘If you have an uppity attitude, you’re only through the door two minutes and suddenly you’re sitting at Wimbledon and your royal protection are saying, “No photographs, no photographs!” ’ The viewer complained to broadcasting watchdog Ofcom, saying the word was racist.
Eamonn Holmes criticised Meghan Markle after a Royal protection officer at Wimbledon asked people not to take her photograph. The This Morning presenter described her actions as ‘uppity’. One viewer complained claiming the word was used in 19th century America to describe black people who ‘did not know their place’. ITV apologised and said Holmes was unaware of the historic definition and vowed the word would not be used again
The complainant also wrote to the TV network’s Head of Diversity, Ade Rawcliffe.
Historically, the word ‘uppity’ was used in the US in the 19th Century as an insult to black people who ‘didn’t know their place’.
Holmes wasn’t aware of the word’s historical context and ITV defended the presenter, finding that his use of it had not been scripted, that the meaning of the word and its connotations had been explained to him, and that it wouldn’t be used in future.
According to sources at ITV, Holmes is now fully aware of the word’s meaning and has promised not to use it again. And the network has gone even further – banning the use of the word completely.
After discussion with Ofcom, Ms Rawcliffe wrote to the upset viewer saying: ‘Eamonn was unaware of the history of the term “uppity” and how it could be interpreted when describing Meghan Markle.
‘We are not saying that ignorance is in any way a defence, he was using the term to describe what he interpreted as arrogance.
‘The origins of the term have now been explained to Eamonn and the wider editorial team and it won’t be used again. We apologise for any offence that this may have caused you.’
However, the complainant is said to be furious that Mr Holmes has not made a public apology.
Ofcom have confirmed they will research audience attitudes to the word in their future work to ensure that viewers aren’t offended in future.
The word has previously sparked rows in the media in the US, most notably after it was used to describe President Obama and Michelle Obama some years ago.
A spokesperson for ITV said last night: ‘At the time of the broadcast in July, Eamonn Holmes was unaware of the history of a particular usage of the term “uppity” and how it could have been interpreted when describing Meghan Markle.
‘Eamonn was using the term to describe what he interpreted as arrogance. The history of the term’s usage was clearly explained to Eamonn and the editorial team at the time and it won’t be used again.’