Question Time host Fiona Bruce says she is surprised by the ‘level of toxicity’ surrounding the programme.
The BBC presenter, who replaced David Dimbleby last year, told the Radio Times she had not anticipated how heated the debate would get surrounding the programme.
“I’m all for a passionate debate, and sometimes things can be heated, which is fine, up to a point. As long as we remember that we are human beings,” she said.
“I feel very strongly about that. I hadn’t anticipated that I would spend so much of my time last year saying, ‘we don’t talk to each other like this.'”
It follows claims that the BBC had “normalised racism” by allowing a far-right supporter to appear on the programme and then have her comments shared on social media unchallenged.
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But Bruce claims that the audience is “calmer” than the year before.
She said: “Well, it’s a lot calmer than last year. There was a level of anger and toxicity that this year, so far, is absent.”
She revealed that she had received a briefing about actor Laurence Fox ahead of his controversial appearance, suggesting producers told her the type of comments he would make.
Former Lewis star Fox made headlines in January after arguing with audience member Rachel Boyle, a lecturer on race and ethnicity, over the media’s treatment of the Duchess of Sussex.
She explained “I had a briefing about Laurence, and what he might say, but the thing about Question Time is that it’s entirely unpredictable, so people will get into arguments.”
Bruce claimed that the programme had something in common with her other show – Antiques Roadshow – claiming that both offered a “public service”.
“Antiques Roadshow is a public service. It reflects the nation back to itself, as does Question Time.
“And as with Question Time it’s not reflecting central London.
“There are a number of programmes in which the BBC goes round the country and I am fortunate enough to work on two.”