Steve McQueen Says He Nearly Boycotted The BBC Over N-Word Scandal

Steve McQueen Says He Nearly Boycotted The BBC Over N-Word Scandal

Small Axe and 12 Years A Slave director Sir Steve McQueen has revealed that he was prepared to boycott the BBC if it had refused to apologize after a journalist used the N-word.


Speaking to the Radio Times, McQueen said he was incredulous after the BBC took 12 days to say sorry after social affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin used the offensive word in describing a race hate attack during a report in July.


The BBC’s decision to stand by the remark prompted 18,656 complaints and the resignation of BBC Radio 1Xtra presenter Sideman. Former BBC director general Tony Hall did eventually step in, telling staff: “The BBC now accepts that we should have taken a different approach at the time of broadcast and we are very sorry for that.”

Reflecting on the matter, McQueen said: “That they didn’t react on the N-word is ridiculous… I can’t tell you what I did. But there was going to be some kind of boycott on my part if that wasn’t corrected because it was so offensive it was untrue.”


McQueen’s threat of a boycott came before the premiere of Small Axe on BBC One. It is not clear if he threatened to pull the long-gestating series.