Matthew Moore, London Telegraph, October 31, 2007
The controversial early morning disc jockey interrupted a discussion of road safety to say she had almost run over a black pedestrian because his dark clothes made him “invisible”.
Kennedy was awarded an MBE in 2005
“It’s lucky he opened his mouth to yawn or do something and I saw him,” she said on her show this morning.
Her comments were immediately attacked by listeners on the BBC’s own message boards, and prompted an apology from the corporation.
“This is just one in a long line of irresponsible remarks from Sarah Kennedy, but the BBC don’t have a problem with her,” one listener wrote.
“OK in 1957 but not PC in 2007,” another added.
“If this were the only occasion in which SK has made direct reference to race, you could let it go, but she has something of a chequered history in this respect,” a third wrote.
“You would have thought she’d be wiser not to refer to race at all.”
In 2000 Kennedy suggested that black people made good runners because they were used to being chased by lions, during an on-air discussion of genetics.
And the 57-year-old raised eyebrows earlier this year by slurring words on her morning show and leaving sentences unfinished.
Listeners again flooded messageboards after she offered to send “panties” to soldiers fighting in Afghanistan to cheer them up and spoke of Princess Diana’s ‘pink polka blot’ dress.
The BBC insisted at the time that her unorthodox performance was the result of breathing difficulties.
Today the corporation apologised for Kennedy’s remarks and said the disc jockey — who currently presents the 6am-7.30am weekday slot — had been spoken to by bosses.
But not all of Kennedy’s listeners were outraged her contribution to the road safety debate this morning. Many believe she made a valid point on the dangers of wearing dark clothes on winter evenings.
“This is nothing to do with prejudice — it is a fact based on the science of light reflecting off objects,” one wrote on one message board.
“Remember the campaign ‘Wear Something White at Night’? Maybe a timely reminder of common sense was in order,” another added.
Kennedy joined Radio 2 in 1976 and won a Sony Gold Radio Award in 1995. She remains a schedule fixture despite the station’s drive for younger viewers, and was awarded an MBE in 2005.
In 1999 she took a week off work suffering from exhaustion after making a series of inappropriate on-air comments while standing in for Sir Terry Wogan.
(Posted on November 1, 2007)
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