Colin Murray: I regret that Clare Balding was insulted on my BBC show

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Colin Murray has spoken for the first time about his regrets on allowing homophobic jokes to be made at the expense of sports presenter Clare Balding on his former Five Live radio show.

The BBC had to apologise in June when a version of Fighting Talk included a satirical section called “Defend the Indefensible” in which comic Bob Mills was asked to justify the argument: “Give me 20 minutes with her and I’m pretty sure I could turn around Clare Balding.”

During the section, Mills described Balding as a “horse woman” who “appreciates power between her thighs.”

The broadcast generated 19 complaints to the corporation.

“Do I think it was over the line? I do think it was over the line,” Murray told the Guardian. “The minute I said it, the second I said [the question], you know as a presenter, everyone on the team knew, fuck, that was over the line. It was just too much.”

Murray claims the offensive question made it into the running order because the show was on location and the normal checks and balances had not been followed.

“The first time I saw [the Balding item] was when I looked down and had to read [it] out,” he said.

Murray insists it was not a “debate” about Balding’s sexuality and claims the BBC overreacted. He says he wasn’t sacked by the corporation but was given fewer shows on Five Live as a result.

“The BBC has a policy, and they can stick to it if they want, of apologise to kill the story. What about the truth?” the DJ complained.

“I would love to have said ‘I didn’t see it before it went on air, we take responsibility as a team, this is how we messed up’, and there was no place for me to do that.

“The thing is, it’s not me, I can handle it, I know what happened. But you’ve no idea how it affects your mum, that people are coming up to her and going ‘he says he can turn Clare Balding’. I never said I could turn Clare Balding, I never made that statement. It’s hugely upsetting.”

Murray left Five Live for a new weekday show on TalkSport last month.

The 36-year-old says his new employer is a place where he can “be myself without every so often spasmodically having to deal with the shit of the outraged few”.