Former newsreader: BBC was ‘aghast’ when I came out as gay

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A former BBC newsreader has claimed the corporation used to insist that gay stars were just “waiting for the right woman”.

Scottish National Party MP John Nicolson came out in 1999 while a newsreader for the BBC – before he later quit news and moved into politics.

Speaking in a Parliamentary debate on diversity, he claimed that the broadcaster failed to acknowledge the sexuality of the Generation Game’s Larry Grayson and John Inman of ‘Are You Being Served?’.

According to the Mail, he said: “When I came out as gay when I was presenting BBC Breakfast on BBC One, which I did for a number of years, I found that I was the first mainstream TV news presenter to do so.

“When I told the press office staff that I had given an interview to the Daily Mail, and that when asked about my home life I had been honest, they were aghast and told me that no BBC presenter had ever been openly gay before.

“I said: ‘Perhaps in news nobody has been openly gay before, but what about other fields?’

“They said that no one in any field had ever been openly gay. Larry Grayson and John Inman were, according to their BBC biographical notes, apparently just waiting for the right woman to come along.

“That was in the year 2000, and I am not sure that much has changed.”

The BBC appointed out presenter Evan Davis as the new host of Newsnight last year.

Mr Nicolson unseated Lib Dem equalities minister Jo Swinson in May, when he was elected as Member of Parliament for East Dunbartonshire.