Ofcom receives 840 complaints over LBC host Steve Allen describing Strictly Come Dancing contestant Tilly Ramsay as a ‘chubby little thing’ live on air
- Steve Allen, 67, slammed for criticising Tilly Gordon’s weight live on the radio
- The LBC presenter called Miss Gordon, 19, a ‘chubby little thing’
- The Strictly Come Dancing Star said she ‘wouldn’t tolerate’ the jibe
- Watchdog Ofcom said it has received 840 complaints following the comment
- Latest Strictly Come Dancing 2021 news on Series 30 judges, dancers and contestants here
LBC host Steve Allen has attracted 840 Ofcom complaints after describing Strictly Come Dancing star Tilly Ramsay as a ‘chubby little thing’.
Allen, 67, was slammed for criticising the CBBC presenter’s weight after reading out a comment from a listener.
On his live radio show on October 18 he went on to say he was ‘bored’ with the 19-year-old’s performances and added that her physical appearance was probably to do with ‘her dad’s cooking’.
Ramsay, the daughter of celebrity chef Gordon, hit back on social media. She wrote that she ‘won’t tolerate people that think it’s OK to publicly comment and scrutinise anyone’s weight and appearance’.
Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom said it had received 840 complaints relating to Allen’s comments about Ramsay.
LBC host Steve Allen (pictured), 67, was slammed for criticising the CBBC presenter’s weight after reading out a comment from a listener
On his live radio show on October 18 he went on to say he was ‘bored’ with 19-year-old Tilly Ramsay’s performances on the BBC show and added that her physical appearance was probably to do with ‘her dad’s cooking’
A spokeswoman said: ‘We are assessing the complaints against our broadcasting rules, but are yet to decide whether or not to investigate.’
On his radio show, Allen had read out a comment from a listener telling him the teenager is taking part in Celebrity MasterChef Australia.
Allen said: ‘Is she? Well, she can’t blimming well dance, I’m bored with her already.
Many controversies of LBC host Steve Allen
The ongoing row between Steve Allen and Tilly Ramsay is the latest spat the LBC host has been involved in.
A scan of his Twitter shows a bizarre feud with reality TV star Gemma Collins, whose weight he frequently criticised and who he described as ‘a beach hut’.
He made similar comments about TV personality Sally Jacks, who he said was ‘fat like you can’t believe’.
Ms Jacks replied to the tweet to reveal she was struggling to shed baby weight.
Back in 2018, he was rapped by Ofcom after he mocked a blind journalist who became the first person in the UK to use a miniature guide horse.
Mohammed Salim Patel from Blackburn, Lancashire, was using two-year-old American miniature horse Digby because of his fear of dogs – until the horse grew too big.
In a broadcast on October 1, Allen said he’d ‘never heard of anything so stupid’ while discussing a story on Digby.
He also said on air: ‘Well if he’s blind, tell him it’s a rabbit or something. I’ve never heard of anything so stupid.
‘This is the blind man scared of dogs hoping that a horse will guide him on his commute. Where are you going to take that for goodness sake?’
In December, communications regulator Ofcom upheld a complaint that the comments had been offensive.
In 2015, LBC was given a warning from Ofcom after Allen made comments about ‘beating up’ London Tube workers.
Allen said: ‘I think we should go round and start beating up tube people, the people that bring them all out on strike.’
In 2017, Ofcom also received complaints after Allen said: ‘Why do we have to start being nice to travellers? Every time I read a story in the newspaper its either thieving, robbing or brawling… what is the matter with them?’
And in the same year, Ofcom found him in breach of the code for making discriminatory comments about people from Portugal.
‘She’s a chubby little thing, isn’t she? Have you noticed? Probably her dad’s cooking, I should imagine.’
His comments attracted criticism from figures including former Love Island star Dr Alex George, who was appointed a youth mental health ambassador for the Government earlier this year.
He shared a screenshot of an email he sent to LBC about the incident on Instagram and said he was ‘absolutely horrified’ by the remarks.
Ramsay was also inundated with support from her Strictly co-stars, with It Takes Two presenter Janette Manrara writing: ‘How fast we forget what hurtful comments can do for someone’s mental health.’
Allen contacted Ramsay last week to issue a private apology.
News of the apology came just days after LBC bosses stood by their presenter despite Allen facing calls to quit and said there were no plans at this stage for an investigation into his comments.
Saturday’s episode of Strictly saw Ramsay secure third place on the leader board with 36 points.
After her dance, she spoke of her joy after a ‘difficult week of training’.
Taking to social media, Miss Ramsay said she would not tolerate those who criticise her weight.
‘I try not to read and listen to comments and negativity, however recently being called out on a national radio station by a 67-year-old man is a step too far,’ she wrote on Instagram.
‘It’s such a shame that someone is trying to make such a positive experience negative. This isn’t the first and definitely won’t be the last comment made about my appearance… but please remember that words can hurt.’
After his initial comments, there were calls from industry insiders for Allen to go.
One source told The Sun: ‘Steve’s outdated and archaic comments have been allowed to continue for far too long and plenty of people want him out.
‘There’s free speech and then there is calling a teenage girl fat live on the radio. Plenty of people think it’s time he was given his marching orders because this isn’t the first time he’s made unacceptable comments on air and hasn’t been reprimanded.
‘He should issue an apology at the least – but people want him gone. He’s bringing the reputation of the station down.’
An insider told MailOnline that while there are some within LBC who called for Allen to quit because they see him as a ‘dinosaur’, others wanted him to stay.
The insider added that Allen ‘gets on well’ with LBC hosts Eddie Mair and Nick Ferrari and was ‘well thought of in the industry’ by breakfast presenters on other stations.
Talking about who may want Allen out, the industry insider told MailOnline it would be those at LBC who are ‘slightly more progressive, and they may regard Steve as a dinosaur’.
Ramsay secured third place on the leader board with her latest performance on Strictly
The insider continued: ‘I think that there’s always been this suggestion that because he’s been there 20 years that he’s a bit of a dinosaur and he’s had his day and there’s been a number of Ofcom complaints about him.
‘But there was dissatisfaction with Nigel Farage when he was on LBC and that was from the James O’Brien stable. But I’m not sure if this falls into the same category.
‘I’m not particularly a fan but I know he has a massive following and if he were to disappear from the airwaves I think there’d be quite an outcry.’
He added that there was a possibility Allen could retire soon, saying: ‘That might probably be the outcome and I was thinking this morning maybe there’s a conversation going on saying “Steve, you’re in your 60s, perhaps it’s time to go and hit the beach” – maybe that conversation is taking place.’
The insider continued: ‘I think everyone’s tolerated him, but I think the moment something like this happens people draw up battle lines.
‘A lot of breakfast show presenters listen to Steve Allen on their way to work because they think he’s a good presenter, he’s well thought of in the industry.’
News of the apology comes days after LBC bosses stood by Allen despite calls for him to quit
On the issue of whether Allen’s comments would fall foul of Ofcom, the insider said it was not clear whether it was ‘offensive’.
He said: ‘They have to balance freedom of expression with causing offensive, and I’m not sure that ‘chubby’ is one of the prohibited words. And even if it is, within a broadcasting code there is 2.1 which is called ‘generally accepted standards’.
‘It’s their catch all, so if there’s a lot of complaints they will judge it by that standard – so I’m not sure this would be upheld by Ofcom. People are allowed to offend other people, it’s not against the broadcasting code.’
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