BBC warns presenter for calling woman cricketer a little Barbie

Chris Hughes was interviewing Maitlan Brown, of the Southern Brave team. —BBC

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has issued a warning to Chris Hughes, a former Love Island contestant recently hired as a cricket presenter, for making “not appropriate” comments on air. 

During a pitch-side interview with Australian all-rounder Maitlan Brown from the Southern Brave team, Hughes referred to her as “a little Barbie,” leading to criticism from viewers and cricket fans alike.

The incident occurred during the BBC’s coverage of The Hundred tournament, where the Southern Brave team was featured. Brown, aged 26, was sharing how the team had bonded ahead of the tournament by watching the movie “Barbie” together. In response, Hughes, 30, commented, “You’re a little Barbie yourself, aren’t you, with your blue eyes.” As Brown laughed, he added, “She’s blushing now.”

Following the interview, Hughes faced backlash on social media, with many calling his remarks sexist and inappropriate. The BBC acknowledged the controversy and released a statement affirming that they had addressed the matter with Hughes and emphasised that his comment was not suitable for the broadcast.

Several cricket fans expressed their disappointment and called for Hughes to apologise for his remark. One Twitter user criticised the BBC’s decision to hire him, stating, “The absolute state of this @BBCSport. ‘Batsman.’ ‘You’re a bit of a Barbie yourself.’ So much great young journalistic cricket talent in the UK, and you hire that clown.'” Another remarked, “Not sure interviewing Maitlan Brown needed to include ‘You’re a bit of a Barbie too with your blue eyes.'”

Chris Hughes first gained fame as a contestant on the third series of the reality show Love Island. Despite his passion for cricket and his experience as a presenter for live horse racing coverage on ITV, his recent comments during the cricket interview have drawn significant criticism and raised concerns about the portrayal of female athletes in the media.

The incident serves as a reminder of the importance of respectful and gender-sensitive language in sports media coverage. It highlights the need for broadcasters and presenters to be mindful of their words and avoid perpetuating stereotypes or making objectifying remarks about athletes, regardless of their gender.

As the cricket tournament continues, the BBC and other media outlets must strive to ensure that all interviews and commentaries maintain a respectful and inclusive tone, promoting an atmosphere of equality and fairness in sports coverage. It is essential to uphold professional standards and uphold the dignity of athletes, allowing them to be recognised for their talent, skills, and contributions to the game.

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