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Outrage as TV historian becomes the second white BBC presenter says the N word on air in three days

Viewers have reacted with outrage after a TV historian became the second white BBC presenter to say the n-word in three days.

American History’s Biggest Fibs presented by Lucy Worsley was aired on Saturday night on BBC Two and is about the history of slavery.

It came just days after a social affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin used the offensive term when covering the collision between a Honda Accord and a 21-year-old man in Bristol.

Today it was revealed ‘senior editorial figures,’ at the BBC okayed the use of the slur during its Points West news bulletin.

But the BBC would not reveal how many of those editorial figures were white, instead saying: ‘We would not share this level of detail about any of our staff.’

The slur was repeated on a BBC programme for the second time in a matter of days during American History’s Biggest Fibs – which originally aired on BBC4 in 2019.

It was uttered with historian Lucy Worsley covers a speech by US President Abraham Lincoln who in 1865 said that black people should be given the right to vote.

Worsley provided a reaction quote to the speech from confederacy supporter John Wilkes Booth, who went on to assassinate Lincoln.

Speaking to the camera, Worsley tells the audience: ‘He said, and his words carry a health warning, ‘That means n****r citizenship. By God, that’s the last speech he will ever make’.’ 

Social media users reacted with fury at the clip, which is the second time the n-word has been broadcast in the last few days.

Twitter user RodentWild said: ‘This is the second clip with a BBC presenter saying this extreme racist term in a segment during the past week. Must have been a policy change at highest levels in @BBC to allow this. What the Hell?’

And Jasmine Dotiwala said:  So it’s just accepted that the N word is on the BBC regularly now. Is it acceptable or am i the only one continuously offended?’

In response to criticism from a Twitter user online about her use of the racist term, Lucy Worsley apologised.

She said: ‘You’re right @therealpetraamp, it wasn’t acceptable and I apologise,’

A BBC spokesperson told Metro : ‘This is a history programme about the American Civil War and features contributions from a number of African American scholars. 

‘Content information about the nature of the film was given before the programme started, and presenter Lucy Worsley gave a clear warning to the audience before quoting John Wilkes Booth as the term clearly has the potential to cause offence.’ 

The blunder comes just days after social affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin used the offensive term when covering the collision between a Honda Accord and a 21-year-old man in Bristol in a broadcast on Wednesday.

The car was said to have deliberately hit the victim as he left Southmead Hospital after a shift last Wednesday.

Horrified witnesses said he was flung from the pavement into a nearby garden as two thugs reportedly hurled racist abuse at him.

Lamdin shocked viewers during the 10.30am clip for BBC Points West yesterday – which was replayed on the BBC News Channel today – when she said: ‘Just to warn you, you’re about to hear highly offensive language.’

She added: ‘Because as the men ran away, they hurled racial abuse, calling him a n*****.’

BBC guidance says strong language should not be used before the 9pm watershed, but ‘n****r’ is usually seen as too rude to ever air. 

A statement shared online from the BBC’s Complaints team revealed the word was only used following a decision by ‘senior editorial figures’.

The complaint read: ‘We completely accept and understand why people have been upset by its use. 

‘The decision to use the word was not taken lightly and without considerable detailed though. We were aware that it would cause offence.’

It added its decision was ‘support by the family and the victim’. 

In a response to complaints about the incident the corporation said ‘we independently considered whether the use of the word was editorially justified given the context.’

It said the victim’s family were “anxious” the incident was seen and understood by the wider public, meaning they wanted viewers to see the extent of the man’s injuries and to hear the racist language alleged to have been used.

They added that the decision was made to use it by a team including a number of senior editors.

The BBC admitted the word was ‘highly offensive’ and people would be upset but in the ‘specific context’ they felt the need to report the ‘words alleged to have been used’. 

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