A throwaway line by the host of BBC’s flagship football show, aimed at his two bald co-hosts, has triggered a reaction with Gary Lineker trolled for hair loss ‘joke.’
The former Leicester and England striker is these days to be found presenting football shows on TV. Not just for the BBC either. He stirred controversy when the BBC published the salaries of its top earners and Gary’s name featured large at the top of the list. As did the fact that he was registered with them as a ‘freelancer.’ It meant that as well as lucratively hosting Match of the Day every Saturday evening during the season, he pops up all over the world doing the same job for a host of sports channels. Having enjoyed a successful spell during his playing career in Spain, with Barcelona, he speaks fluent Spanish too. So don’t go thinking a football fan can avoid him easily.
The show he presents, Match of the Day, is the longest-running show of its kind anywhere in the world. Not so much a show as an institution. The outcry when the BBC carelessly, albeit briefly, lost the rights to a commercial channel was huge. And rectified the next time the bidding came round.
Hair Loss Joke
Lineker provoked a wave of criticism when, last weekend, he introduced the show promising lots of action. Enough, he said, to make your hair stand on end… unless you are Danny Murphy or Alan Shearer. Shearer and Murphy, his bald co-hosts, looked toward the floor and shook their heads in unison. It is not the first time he has made bald jokes aimed in their direction. Nor indeed is it the first time he has courted trouble, his personal Twitter account has been used to spout many of his personal opinions. The stand-out was the trouble he created by announcing that Brexit should be subject to another referendum. BBC rules prevent employees from declaring their personal thoughts on such matters. On this occasion, the BBC decided Gary Linker, as a freelancer and as a sports host, was not subject to these rules when using his own account. The decision got some acidic responses from other BBC sports presenters who felt Lineker had crossed a line. An accusation Lineker himself denies emphatically.
The bald joke prompted complaints to the BBC. Many trolled Linker using their own Twitter accounts. The BBC for their part has been tight-lipped in response, refusing to even confirm that bald jokes would not feature again in the future. One commented, “I can take a joke, but have you not noticed that bald blokes are literally the only people left in society that can be **** on with impunity.” A fair point we thought, even with the expletive deleted. Another made a more personal point, “I started going bald at 14, totally destroyed my confidence.”
HIS Hair Clinic
Lineker will not change his style, it has bought him far too much success to change now. But for us, the BBC has a duty of care to the watching public, and that includes the next generation of young teens who will endure hair loss at a seriously challenging time of life. It is about the kind of world we want to live in. If you are the parent of a young hair loss sufferer, Alopecia. org, the hair loss charity, offer a download full of useful advice and tips. See it by clicking here.
Match of the Day is compelling TV and has been for 50 years because the core content is the superbly competitive English Premier League. The show itself would benefit from a makeover. Get rid of the stale presenters and disinterested pundits, they add little in terms of entertainment and absolutely nothing in regards to informed opinion or insights.
As for Lineker’s bald joke, it was a poor one. Made worse by being told on live TV and aimed at his co-workers. What other parts of the body can be the subject of such public mocking? Whatever the niceties of Mr. Lineker’s contract with the BBC, his employers should have the authority to demand it stops.
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