Jim Wells: I will not be silenced after bruising encounter with GMB's Piers Morgan
Jim Wells said he will not be silenced after his "bruising encounter" with Good Morning Britain's Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid during which the veteran DUP politician said same-sex couples should not be allowed on Strictly Come Dancing because it would be too “challenging” to watch.
Speaking to The Irish News, he said the interview "was an attempt to shut up people like me but it won't stop me. I will not be silenced."
Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Wells said he believes the BBC should not let two people of the same gender dance together on the programme after the broadcaster said it was “completely open” to having same-sex couples competing on the show in the future.
Piers Morgan called him "an old bigoted dinosaur."
Mr Wells, who said he had complained to the show's director and would make a formal complaint to TV regulator Ofcom, said: "I thought Stephen Nolan was bad. Their behaviour was disgraceful. Nintey per cent of the time was spent attacking me personally."
Hosts Morgan and Reid clashed with the former DUP health minister, who said that Strictly is “family viewing”, adding: “You’ve had a busy week, you sit down with the family and you watch pure entertainment.
Jurassic Park returns! https://t.co/uJN3NttZIr— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) September 3, 2019
“The last thing you want is to be challenged or to be asked deep intellectual questions.”
Mr Wells, who makes his opposition to same-sex marriage widely known, said that he believes same-sex couples should only be shown on Strictly if it were after the watershed of 9pm.
He cited Blind Date, saying that the programme “went down the plughole” and that viewers switched off after the “radical” move to include homosexual and lesbian couples.
Morgan and Reid asked what time he thinks gay couples should be allowed on TV, to which he replied: “Exactly the same time as the BBC thought two years ago, 9pm.”
Morgan asked him: “What are you like at parties? Do you ever dance?”
Mr Wells said he rarely dances in public, to which Morgan said: “When you danced and men came on the dancefloor, how did you feel? At what point did you feel like a man entering your orbit became a problem for you?”
Referring to former Strictly professional Robin Windsor, who appeared on the programme and was sat next to him, the presenter added: “There’s one right next to you Jim, the whole time you’ve been talking you’ve been in close proximity to a gay man.”
Mr Wells, who lost the DUP whip after criticising the leadership last year, asked if Morgan is meant to be impartial for the interview, to which Reid said: “How can you be impartial about homosexuality?”
Mr Wells told The Irish News: "Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid clearly had deeply held personal views on the issue. They shouldn't let that taint their questioning. They kept on questioning me after the cameras stopped for about 30 seconds. It shows how committed they were to one side of the argument. They are meant to be honest brokers."
"It was an attempt to shut up people like me. But it won't stop me. I will not be silenced. I have had a lot of people calling and messaging me from around the UK telling me how horrified they are at the conduct of the two presenters and telling me to not let it silence me.
"That's my chances of appearing on Strictly down the pan...I've had many a bruising encounter during my career and what you do is brush yourself down and continue on."
During the debate, Mr Wells said his views are not a “repressed” thing after Morgan told him: “Most people who have this weirdly anti-gay sentiment at some stage in their life have had a ‘feeling’.”
After the politician claimed he was being insulted by Morgan, the broadcaster replied: “I’m not insulting you, I’m insulting your bigotry, which is irrational, inconsistent, makes no sense whatsoever, your favourite shows have loads of gay presenters on, there’s a gay judge on Strictly, you think that’s fine but you won’t have two people – who may not even be gay – dancing together.”
“It is about standing for tolerance, the way the world has gone where gay people no longer have to feel disenfranchised, something different, something dirty, something nasty. We have all moved on from people like you coming on television and saying I don’t want to see the people of the same-sex dancing together because it will be corrupting for our kids.”
Mr Morgan and co-host Susanna Reid then introduced two same-sex couples to perform a routine in the Good Morning Britain studio.
“How can you not think this is not beautiful to watch?” Susanna remarked.
Mr Wells told The Irish News that he had not been informed of the "stunt".
"They did not inform me before about the stunt of the same sex dancers coming into the studio. It was an attempt to denigrate me."
The BBC last week said that Strictly is an “inclusive show” and that they are “proud to have featured same-sex dancing amongst the professional dancers in group numbers in previous series”.
A spokesman said: “We are completely open to the prospect of including same-sex pairings between our celebrities and professional dancers in the future, should the opportunity arise.”