Sue Barker has criticised the BBC for the way her departure from Question Of Sport was handled.
In September 2020, it was announced that the former professional tennis player and broadcaster was stepping down as the host of the long-running sports quiz show after 24 years.
During an appearance on BBC Breakfast on Friday morning, the 66-year-old presenter insisted she had not “walked away” from the show, suggesting the corporation had wanted her to say the decision to leave was her own, and not that she was being replaced as part of a “refresh”.
Sue Barker (Photo: David Davies - PA Images via Getty Images)
“It is such a shame because, I have to say, that the BBC had told us we were going,” Sue explained.
“They wanted to refresh the programme and that is absolutely fine. Everyone has the right to do that. We don’t own the programme.
“I’d had 24 amazing years working with the most incredible people. So we knew it was going to happen and it was just the way in which it happened and the way it was handled, and the way the BBC sort of wanted me to say that I was walking away from it.
“And yet, I would never walk away from a job I love. I don’t mind being replaced. Absolutely fine. That happens. But it was just the way it was handled.
“I think we regret the way it was handled. I think if we look back on it we could have handled it better. I think the BBC could have handled it better.
“It is just such a shame because I loved it. And I don’t look back on it badly just because of a couple of bad days and then some negative publicity, which I think affected quite a lot of people.”
Sue Barker with former team captains Matt Dawson (left) and Phil Tufnell. (Photo: Vishal Sharma/BBC via PA Media)
The BBC later confirmed Paddy McGuinness would be taking over the role, while team captains Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell were replaced by Sam Quek and Ugo Monye.
In July, Sue also announced her retirement from presenting the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage.
During an emotional goodbye, Sue said it had been “absolute privilege” to cover the event for the last three decades.
“It’s been an absolute privilege. I’ve loved it. Thirty amazing years. Thank you,” she said.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.