He was the popular face of BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen for ten years until his shock exit in 2016, but now TV chef James Martin has revealed that his on-camera career with the BBC wasn’t all plain sailing.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, the 45-year-old revealed that he had faced discrimination from the channel because of his Yorkshire accent.
“I didn’t get two jobs from the BBC because of my accent,” he told reporter Sebastian Shakespeare.
“I can’t say what jobs they were, but it was before I moved to ITV. It happened more than two years ago. I know because they told me [it was because of my accent].”
While James denies that this was a catalyst for him quitting the much-loved weekend cookery show, he was keen to hammer home the point that this type of bias did – and still does – exist.
“That’s not the reason I left,’ he revealed. “But you’d be wrong if you said they don’t discriminate against people because of their accents.”
Responding, a Corporation spokesman said, “The BBC has a huge variety of presenters with different accents and from different backgrounds.
“The fact that James presented Saturday Kitchen, Home Comforts, Kitchen Invaders, Stately Suppers, Operation Meet the Street, Operation Hospital Food, Ready Steady Cook, The Box, The Real Italian Job and appeared in numerous other shows for the BBC shows that we have no problem with his accent.”
When James waved goodbye to Saturday Kitchen he was widely rumoured to be in the running to replace Chris Evans as the host of BBC’s Top Gear.
However, despite revealing that his two passions in life were “cars and cooking” – and bookies placing odds on him taking on the lead presenter position on the iconic car show – it eventually went to Evans’ former co-host and Friends star Matt LeBlanc.
Revealing James’s apparent disappointment, a source, cited in the Mirror at the time, said, “James is big mates with Chris who has appeared many times on Saturday Kitchen. He was excited to see what he was doing with Top Gear.
“Although James played down joining the show there was no doubt he fancied it. But BBC executives blocked the move. They felt he was best suited to Saturday Kitchen.
“Also, filming commitments for Top Gear are often over weekends which would clash with the show.
“Their view was ‘if it isn’t broke, why fix it?’”
James Martin – what’s he doing now?
But while the chef’s love affair with the BBC seems to be on hold for the moment, Martin has gone on to make a successful move to ITV.
As well as fronting the foodie-focused series James Martin’s American Adventure, he has also delighted fans with ITV’s Saturday Morning with James Martin.
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Unlike Saturday Kitchen, the weekly show – which airs from 9.30am until 11.20am – is pre-recorded, filmed in his own personal home and features a roster of different star guests every week.
Naturally we couldn’t be more excited about his triumphant TV return and whichever channel he chooses to make his home, we know they’ll be a loyal following of fans tuning in.