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Matthew Wright has today quit The Wright Stuff after 18 years of hosting the Channel 5 show, claiming it was "time to depart" and "try something new".
But the real reason behind his shock decision to step down may be something very different, amid reports he and producers were locked in a bitter showdown over his refusal to apologise for one of his guest’s comments.
On the Thursday March 15 show, The Chase star Anne Hegerty took a swipe at transgender activist Paris Lees while they were discussing the gender pay gap.
Paris asked her fellow guest: "So you don’t think there’s an old boys club at the top then?"
To which Anne replied: "No, no, not really. Well, you used to be a boy, you’d know that."
The studio fell silent as everybody digested the awkward moment, before Matthew leaped in to move the conversation along.
But the Daily Mail claimed at the time that Wright was whisked straight into "crisis talks" with show bosses over Anne’s comment, and was told to apologise live on air on the next show or else he wouldn’t be allowed to host it.
A pal of the presenter told the newspaper: "Matthew was steaming and told them, ‘Fine, I won’t do the show then. I don’t see why I have to apologise for one of my guests stating a medical fact. It’s the truth.’"
Matthew didn’t appear on the Friday show – with viewers told he was "off sick" instead.
Anne Diamond was brought in as a replacement at the last minute – and issued the apology producers had asked for.
"They were freaking out, terrified of getting flak from the trans lobby. It never happened," an insider told the paper, after the show received zero complaints over Anne’s comment.
"Matthew is absolutely furious. He felt it was time to draw a line in the sand, one he was not prepared to cross. It’s a medical fact Paris Lees was born a boy, a fact she has always acknowledged," the source went on.
"Matthew is a journalist, he believes in facts, in telling the truth. He said ‘I am not apologising for someone telling the truth’."
The Mail claimed its source had said Paris wasn’t offended by Anne’s remark, but if she was, Matthew would have apologised to her off his own bat.
Ian Rumsey, director for TV production at ITN Productions, told Mirror Onilne: "Matthew has been the heart of The Wright Stuff for nearly two decades and we wish him well in the future.
"He leaves with the programme on a high and we look forward to exciting times ahead."
Mirror Online has also contacted Paris and Matthew’s rep for comment.
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