The Wright Stuff host Matthew Wright denies he quit over transgender row
Matthew Wright has denied quitting his daytime talk show The Wright Stuff because of a dispute over transgender issues.
The TV host has helmed the Channel 5 show for 18 years, but announced on Tuesday he would be stepping away from it to pursue “new projects.”
The reason for Wright’s departure is a mystery, but he has spoken out on Wednesday to deny a report that he quit after an argument with production staff about trans issues.
The Daily Mail had claimed that the clash had come after a live on-air spat between transgender columnist Paris Lees and The Chase star Anne Hegarty on March 15.
In a debate about the gender pay gap, Lees had claimed there was an “old boy’s club at the top” of politics – before Hegarty shot back: “Well, you used to be a boy, you’d know that.”
There were a few seconds of stunned silence before Wright attempted to move on the show without referencing the comments.
The Mail alleges that producers held a “crisis meeting” after the episode aired and asked Wright to read an on-air apology the next day – but that he refused to do so.
The newspaper claims that “tensions reached boiling point” following the dispute, as Wright also refused to take a break from the show at the height of the row.
Wright has maintained a silence on Twitter since the story broke.
Speaking to the Express, however, a spokesperson for Wright strongly denied the allegations.
A representative for the host said: “That story is not true and is pure speculation.”
In the official statement announcing his departure Wright had said: “After almost 18 glorious years on Channel 5 and the show flying high in the ratings, I feel it’s time to move and try my hand at something new.”
It is believed that Channel 5 plan to continue the show under a new name.
Lees previously spoke of her shock at the remark from Hegarty.
The trans activist described how the atmosphere on the show changed dramatically with Hegarty’s comment.
She said: “The whole studio – the audience fell silent. I don’t think anyone knew what to say. You could have cut the atmosphere with a knife.
“I was so shocked, I was processing it.”
She added: “I didn’t make a big deal out of it. I love the show and Matthew, and I’m sure she didn’t mean to be malicious.
“I didn’t say anything backstage, but everyone else came and checked I was OK.
“I’m not easily shaken, I’ve had worse in my time, but when you’re on TV, you don’t expect it.”
Wright previously voiced on-air scepticism about non-binary issues.
In a 2016 discussion of the title ‘Mx’ as a gender-neutral variant of ‘Mr’ or Ms’, he said: “The only examples I’ve seen seem self-determined and part of me doesn’t want to play along,
“I can’t say ‘From now on I want everyone to call me Zod.’ That’s a form of social bullying, isn’t it?”