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Steve McQueen Almost Boycotted BBC Over Reporter’s Use of N-Word

The BBC News channel was locked in scandal over the summer after a reporter's use of the epithet during a report on a racist attack.

Director Steve McQueen poses during a photo call for the movie "Small Axe", at the Rome Film Fest, in Rome, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Steve McQueen


Filmmaker Steve McQueen has revealed that he was about to boycott the BBC if the network had persisted in refusing to apologize for a reporter’s use of the N-word over the summer. During an interview with the Radio Times (via Deadline), McQueen was outraged when the BBC News channel took 12 days to apologize when its social affairs correspondent, Fiona Lamdin, used the epithet in reporting on a racially motivated hate attack that took place in July. Lamdin works for BBC news service Points West.

Following the use of the slur, the BBC stood by the remark, stating, “This was a story about a shocking unprovoked attack on a young black man. His family told the BBC about the racist language used by the attackers and wanted to see the full facts made public… A warning was given before this was reported. We are no longer running this version of the report but are continuing to pursue the story.”

The BBC’s stance drew more than 18,000 complaints and resulted in the resignation of BBC Radio 1Xtra presenter Sideman. Tony Hall, the former BBC director general, eventually told staff, “The BBC now accepts that we should have taken a different approach at the time of broadcast and we are very sorry for that.”

In his interview with the Radio Times, McQueen said, “That they didn’t react on the N-word is ridiculous… I can’t tell you what I did. But there was going to be some kind of boycott on my part if that wasn’t corrected because it was so offensive it was untrue.”

His five-film series “Small Axe,” currently rolling out on Amazon Prime Video in the United States, premiered on BBC One, though it’s unclear whether he would’ve pulled the movies from the network. The films include “Mangrove,” “Lovers Rock,” “Red, White and Blue,” “Alex Wheatle,” and the upcoming “Education,” which drops on Amazon Prime Video December 18. They’re earning consistently strong reviews for the Academy Award-winning director of “12 Years a Slave,” and are prominently featuring in many critics’ year-end 10 best lists, including from IndieWire’s Eric Kohn.

IndieWire interviewed McQueen about the film series back in September.

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