By Dan Strayer

27th February 2020

Laurence Fox Question Time Performance Leads To Quitting Social Media

Laurence Fox question time was once Laurence Fox: Billie Piper's husband, until their 2016 divorce
SOURCE: The Mirror

Laurence Fox’s Question Time comments led to a furious race row, especially on Twitter. Such is the backlash that the noted musician and actor quit social media after he faced online death threats.

In lengthy Tweets, Laurence Fox told followers he would be leaving social media behind after speaking out on the television programme in regard to the treatment of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex. He hints that the backlash may affect his ability to provide for his family.

Laurence Fox’s Pre-Question Time Career

So what was the man up to before BBC Question Time threw Laurence Fox’s career into disrepair?

Fox the thespian

A troublemaker of sorts during his public school days at The Harrow School, Fox did not even take his A-levels.

“It was something to do with a girl at a dance. I went back to take the exams, but I wasn’t allowed to speak to anyone.”

Fox found his calling by enrolling at RADA after stints as a gardener and office worker. In a sign of things to come, Fox took on stage and film roles during his later years at RADA, which is not an acceptable practice at the Academy. Outspoken and related to noted performers James Fox and Emilia Fox, Laurence nevertheless forged a path toward a suitable calling.

As a result, he is best known for the role of D.S. James Hathaway on the police drama Lewis, a role Fox held from 2006 to 2015. More recently, fans will recognise him in the ITV historical drama series Victoria as Lord Palmerston.

Other television parts saw him compete with Bear Grylls, as well as in roles for:

  • Foyle’s War
  • Colditz
  • Jericho
  • A Room With a View
  • Wired.

A veteran of stage and some film, he’s also been part of an Oscar-nominated ensemble film, Gosford Park, directed by Robert Altman; as well as Elizabeth: The Golden Age alongside Cate Blanchett. His stage work saw Fox take on roles such as Charles de Gaulle, Stephen Daedalus and Guy Haines from Strangers on a Train.

Fox the musician

Laurence Fox has more recently dedicated himself to music. Since 2012, he has released two albums and five singles.

The Yorkshireman, 41, is known to many as the former spouse of Billie Piper, to whom he was married from 2007 to 2016. As he once explained to Lorraine Kelly, Fox admits that writing music helps him cope with life’s struggles, including the divorce.

Fox the outspoken actor

Political correctness and so-called “woke” culture seem to have no place in Fox’s henhouse. He has spoken at length against the practices, earning a reputation that in fact put him in position to be included as a BBC Question Time panellist.

Appearances on podcasts that accommodate such thinking buttress this philosophy, such as this discussion with James Delingpole earlier this year.

Such outlets allow people to air their views. Simultaneously, it may have greased the skids for Fox’s downfall in recent mainstream media. Firstly, it led to an erroneous statement about the recent Sam Mendes masterpiece war film 1917.

Laurence Fox on 1917

One element of the Academy Award-nominated 1917 simply could not escape Fox’s ire in January, and it cost him in a big way. Long story short, the outspoken (but uninformed, in this case) side of Laurence Fox got the better of him.

It all came to a head in an appearance on Good Morning Britain with Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid. Admitting he was no historian, Fox nevertheless offered that the addition of a Sikh actor in the World War One film was “incongruous”.

“I think there were a lot of soldiers from the former empire fighting in World War One. I suppose it would have been less incongruous to me if he had got on the truck to a whole regiment of Sikh soldiers.”  

Historian Peter Singh Bance pounced, countering Fox’s assertion by stating that Sikhs fought alongside British forces during the First World War, and “not just their own regiments”.

The historical blunder compelled Fox to apologise.

“Fellow humans who are #Sikhs. I am as moved by the sacrifices your relatives made as I am by the loss of all those who die in war, whatever creed or colour.

“Please accept my apology for being clumsy in the way I have expressed myself over this matter in recent days.”

By no means was it the end of Laurence Fox’s brash ways getting the better of his reputation.

Laurence Fox on Question Time

The prior details about Fox as an outspoken performer set the stage for the issue in question. As BBC Question Time addressed the matter of Harry and Meghan, Fox responded to an audience member stating Markle had been subjected to racism.

“It’s not racism … we’re the most tolerant, lovely country in Europe. It’s so easy to throw the charge of racism and it’s really starting to get boring now.”

The audience member, since identified as Rachel Boyle, remained steadfast, charging Fox as a white privileged male.

“I can’t help what I am, I was born like this, it was an immutable characteristic. ‘To call me a white, privileged male is to be racist.”

Fiona Bruce, the independent moderator, inadvertently stepped into the controversy by challenging Boyle’s racism claim. 

“I’m not taking a view either way, I just want to add in that Priti Patel, the home secretary, also took the view that it wasn’t racism. I’m not making a judgement on that.”

The backlash forces Fox to say goodbye to social media

In full, Fox announced on Twitter that he would no longer participate in social media. This after the show received over 250 complaints about his statements on the episode.

Here is the thread of what Fox said in his response (first reported by The Standard). The thread will be broken up periodically.

Laurence Fox on BBC Question Time
SOURCE: The London Evening Standard

“I’m going to take an extended break from social media. I’d like to say a couple of things. First of all, a huge thank you to all of you who have followed me throughout my career and travelled vast distances to come and see me on stage, be in acting or singing.

“Since my appearance on question time and the ensuing hubbub, I have had nothing but support on the street, from people of all backgrounds and political view points. In the weird and lonely days that followed that appearance, your kind words have lifted my spirits. Thank you.

“But privately I have been becoming more and more depressed. I have been so shocked by some of the things said to me on these platforms and I have found some of it very hard to process. I think it’s important to stand up to bullies and that is why I have continued to do so.”

Private but opinionated

SOURCE: The Sun

“But I find that I wake up in dread of what’s to come. I’m a fairly private if opinionated person and it’s been very painful and difficult to cope with. However I also believe in passionately in free speech. I stand wholeheartedly by people’s right to express themselves.

“But I am fearing for my future and my ability to provide financially for my children. A thought that keeps has kept me awake most nights. People tell me it will blow over, but when you are in it, it doesn’t feel like it will.

“I expressed an opinion, which I stand by and I don’t believe is controversial. As a result Equity UK called (amongst other things) for actors to denounce me. This has been very hard to deal with, given that members weren’t polled before these tweets were sent out…

“I love my job. I am so blessed to have been fortunate enough to make a career out of it and I have met some of the best people and made such great friends whilst working as an actor. The thought of that being taken away saddens me more than I can say.

“I think we need to learn to listen to each other better, I am learning this all the time. I believe that pushing people to the edge of their ability to remain emotionally ok through cancel culture can and does have deadly consequences…

Cancelling out the ‘noise’

“I have no sympathy for him because he brought it on himself.” When Jeremy explained his union denounced him on Twitter, Ms El-Wardany said: “This could have been a learning opportunity for him.”
SOURCE: Metro

“I know that in order for me to be ok I have to turn this noise off for a while. We all have feelings. We all have hopes and dreams. We don’t have to agree. 

“We just have to respect that we are all different and we all deserve a chance to speak freely.

“We all have privilege too. All of us. Whatever colour or creed. The richest and the poorest. Some see it. Some don’t. Some have more than others. 

“Billionaires have bad days and beggars have good ones. I’ve spent time with both and I know it to be true. I wish you ALL all the best (as) I hope the loudest voices are the ones that come from love and truth.

A final dig at a fellow musician

“I hope that those who feel hate can be encouraged to find the love around them.

“For me, I’m going to go back to reading more books. There is so much I will miss about Twatter, but on balance, I don’t think I need it half as much as I enjoy it.

“I’ll probably be back on in ten minutes taking the p*** out of Lily Allen!”

Jeremy Vine spoke out on Fox's behalf
SOURCE: The Independent

Defenders and detractors in the Laurence Fox Question Time debacle

After his questionable interactions with a Question Time audience member, actor Laurence Fox still has his defenders.

Consequently, one of those defenders is Jeremy Vine of Channel 5. Vine knows Fox well, as he is frequently a guest on the show. Additionally, Morgan remains on Twitter, branding him as someone celebrated by the “real world.”

Nevertheless, the experience – by Fox’s own admission – makes for what Fox has since labelled “weird and lonely days.” Speaking again recently on GMB, he says:

‘I’ve had death threats and I’ve got children so it’s not pleasant…I think when you don’t have an argument, your rage starts to increase, doesn’t it?’

So much so that the acting union Equity labels Fox “a disgrace to our industry.” On Vine’s show, one panellist, Salma El-Wardany, expressed little sympathy for Fox’s newfound predicament.

“I have no sympathy for him because he brought it on himself…This could have been a learning opportunity for him.”

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