Eyebrows were raised when columnist and restaurant critic Giles Coren was selected as one of the faces of the BBC’s flagship arts and culture TV magazine show Front Row.
They can finally now be lowered, as the co-presenter of Edwardian Supersize Me and The Supersizers Go… has stepped down from the prestigious post, citing a "bursting diary."
Theatre professionals, in particular, questioned Coren’s appointment given that in an interview with the Radio Times he claimed to have little affection for the theatre, finding it "stressful."
The Daily Telegraph quoted The Stage’s Mark Shenton as saying on Coren’s appointment in 2017: “It’s more than a little dispiriting that cultural commentators, as these presenters are being appointed to be, can be so casually dismissive of theatre – hiding behind spurious reasons like anxiety over actors remembering their lines”
Coren announced his decision via Twitter, with a wry acknowledgement of his careless words:
The arts (and especially theatre) world will be wearing black armbands today, as they learn that a bursting diary has forced me, very regretfully, to stand down from presenting the next series of Front Row on BBC2. It was a pleasure and a privilege. The new series will be GREAT!— Giles Coren (@gilescoren) February 1, 2018
Alistair Smith, the editor of The Stage, expressed some regret at Coren’s departure – telling the Guardian: “Some of the stuff Giles said in the run-up to the airing of the series was silly – and he did antagonise a few people within the theatre world. But he is a talented broadcaster and someone who has shown that he can engage a mass audience.”