TV firm sorry over star’s “cannon fodder” comment

THE TV company that produces hit quiz show Pointless has apologised after host Alexander Armstrong quipped some of his losing contestants were like “cannon fodder” at the Somme.

Endemol which makes the BBC2-aired show issued an apology on Wednesday following the broadcast of last Friday’s programme.

Alexander Armstrong

Alexander Armstrong

Armstrong’s comments were castigated by the Hastings and St Leonards Veterans Association who told The Observer he should apologise.

The offending quip was prompted by the performance of Magnus and Wendy Gorham from Bexhill who appeared on the show last Thursday and Friday.

The couple explained how they both went to Warden Park Comprehensive school in Cuckield, West Sussex, where the show’s co-presenter Richard Osman also attended.

The Gorhams were knocked out in the first round of the show on both occasions after collecting the highest score.

On the second occasion the show’s co-host Richard Osman explained how in a previous show two contestants who had attended Warden Park had also been knocked out.

He said: “A while back we had two people that went to my old school down in Sussex. It’s a big school so it’s not weird that we have people from my old school. It’s a very big school. They played two shows and got knocked out in the first round both times. So the last show we got two more people from my old school, Wendy and Magnus, who are far more my vintage as well. So I thought finally here is a chance for redemption - people could see that Warden Park is not the appalling institution it has been painted to be. And then they got knocked out in the first round.”

At which point Armstrong, who, it has been reported, discovered he is a descendant of William the Conqueror, said: “It’s like the Somme - they’re just cannon fodder. Up over the top - down they go.”

Mr Osman then added: “I am very, very hopeful that Magnus and Wendy might go a little bit further this time.”

Stuart Murphy, vice chairman of the veterans association, said: “It was wrong, disrespectful and inappropiate to say that.

“It was disgusting. I think he should apologise personally to the families of those who lost their loved ones in the Somme battle. It’s not something you say in jest. He is a well educated man and should know better. He might not have thought it at the time but it was a stupid thing to say.”

Chairman Richard Butcher added “It is inappropiate. For those people whose great grandfathers fought in the Somme it is making light of their sacrifice.

“It is pretty poor especially as next year is the start of the 100th anniversary of the First World War.”

Rachel Hassall, spokeswoman for the show’s producer Endemol said: “It was not our intention to cause offence and apologise for any upset this may have caused.”