Frankie Boyle was put under no pressure to quit Mock The Week, a former BBC production editor has revealed.
Suzanne Gilfillan admitted she was no fan of the comic’s joke about Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington, which attracted so much controversy.
But she allowed the joke to star in after a discussion with other BBC producers, provided they also showed the reaction of host Dara O Briain, which was more ‘sympathetic’ to Adlington.
He imagined the Olympian sitting down to relax and watch the show... only to be saddened by Boyles’ jokes.
Gilfillan told the jury in the libel case Boyle is bringing against the Daily Mirror: ‘We discussed it and I wasn't a fan of the joke, as many people weren't, but in the context of the show and after discussions with editors [we decided to keep it in].
‘If we keep the joke in and we keep Dara's response, which was quite sympathetic and quite outraged, it sort of makes the joke feel less cruel in isolation.’
The Mirror claimed Boyle – who they also branded a ‘racist comedian’ – had been forced to quit the show.
But Gilfillan denied BBC bosses had applied any pressure on him to quit, and said the corporation hoped Boyle he would return as a guest after he left in 2009.
Boyle, who has a column in the Daily Mirror’s big rival, The Sun, previously told the court that just because his jokes sometimes contained racist language that did not mean he held racist views.
The case continues.