Clive Myrie reveals shocking extent of racial abuse faced as BBC newsreader

Newsreader and ‘Mastermind’ host detailed some of the abuse he’d received on ‘Desert Island Discs’

Nicole Vassell
Sunday 16 June 2024 09:05 BST
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Clive Myrie has revealed details of the death threats he has received, including messages “talking about the kind of bullet that he’d use in the gun to kill me”.

Speaking to Lauren Laverne in a new edition of Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Myrie, 59, opened up about an unexpected pitfall of becoming more “visible” to audiences: racial abuse and death threats.

Myrie said he had received faeces and “cards in the post with gorillas on”, as well as emails that read: “You shouldn’t be on our TV; you dress like a pimp.”

Though Myrie has been at the BBC since the 1980s, the journalist and presenter has steadily become more of a familiar face on the network with high-profile presenting roles such as leading Mastermind since 2021.

He continued: “But one chap issued death threats, and he was tracked down and prosecuted, and his death threats involved talking about the kind of bullet that he’d use in the gun to kill me and this kind of stuff.

“I was shaken for a while after I’d been told. I thought, ‘It’s just someone showboating. It’s just bravado.’

“And then they tracked down this character, and it turned out that he had previous convictions for firearms offences. So [I] thought, ‘Oh my God, what, if anything, might this person have been planning?’”

Clive Myrie ‘shaken’ after death threats detailed type of bullet ‘to kill me’
Clive Myrie ‘shaken’ after death threats detailed type of bullet ‘to kill me’ (Tyler Hall/BBC)

Myrie, who was born to Jamaican parents in Farnworth, near Bolton, also spoke at the Hay Festival last month about this harrowing experience. He noted that the 2017 incident was a reminder of the lengths to which some people might go with racial hatred.

Next month, he and political journalist Laura Kuenssberg will lead the BBC’s election night coverage for the first time. They are taking over from Huw Edwards, who resigned from the network in April on “medical advice” after he was accused of paying a teenager thousands of pounds for sexually explicit images.

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Elsewhere on the long-running radio show, Myrie told host Laverne about his hopes for the overnight election coverage after Britain heads to the polls on Thursday 4 July. While admitting there is “a lot of pressure” on the broadcast, Myrie also embraces the adrenaline and “nervous energy” involved in such essential coverage.

“I’ve never presented an election programme in the UK before. I’m getting my head around a lot of statistics,” he said.

Clive Myrie has hosted Mastermind since 2021
Clive Myrie has hosted Mastermind since 2021 (BBC/Hindsight/Hat Trick Productions/William Cherry/Press Eye)

“But you know, we want to try and make it fun too; it is not just going to be a night for geeks. I hope it’s not just a night for political geeks.

“I want people to be able to tune in and get a sense of where this country is going and the buzz of being on the front line.

“This is the front line of what it means to be British regarding the elections.”

You can follow The Independent’s coverage of the General Election here.

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