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The Wright Stuff host Matthew Wright denies he quit over transgender row

Nick Duffy May 2, 2018

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?”

More: LGBT, Matthew Wright, Television, the wright stuff, Trans, Transgender, Wright Stuff

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