Gary Lineker refused to apologise for sex noises despite BBC asking three times to say sorry

BBC pundit Gary Lineker during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round Replay match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool at Molineux on January 17, 2023 in Wolverhampton, England. - Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images
BBC pundit Gary Lineker during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round Replay match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool at Molineux on January 17, 2023 in Wolverhampton, England. - Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

BBC executives desperately pleaded with Gary Lineker to apologise amid a tense studio standoff over the pornographic noises prank during live FA Cup coverage last week.

Insiders told Telegraph Sport the long-serving anchor refused three times to say sorry as the mystery moans prompted panic among senior corporation management.

Lineker, 62, saw no reason to accept blame on behalf of the BBC as camera and studio operators sought out the phone which had been making the loud sounds.

As panic spread among senior staff about a potential storm of criticism at coverage being sabotaged, the presenter told senior staff to hold their ground.

But a back and forth dialogue with Lineker then ensued on whether he would say sorry during coverage of Liverpool’s live clash against Wolves in the FA Cup.

Lineker: 'I think it's funny'

The BBC later released a statement apologising, but former England captain Lineker told Newsnight he could not understand why it had done so.

"I have to say I think it's funny," he told Kirsty Wark as she interviewed him about the prank. "I know the BBC have issued some sort of apology. I know not why. We've certainly got nothing to apologise for."

Wark responded: "I'm sure you've got nothing to apologise for but I suppose the BBC might feel that people are offended." Lineker responded "I doubt it". But Wark added: "I suppose what you could say is 'it could have been something that's more dangerous in the studio'."

It has only now become clear, however, how much pressure Lineker had been under to say sorry during the live broadcast earlier. After the match, Lineker tweeted to say the team had found a mobile phone that was taped to part of the broadcaster's set.

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

BBC declines to comment

But he continued to make fun of the furore on Saturday, with a string of puns as he introduced Match of the Day coverage. "Let's hope we're not rudely interrupted", said Lineker before asking pundit Danny Murphy: "Have you turned your phone off?'

Both a spokesman for Lineker and the BBC declined to comment on pleas for him to apologise. However, Lineker, the BBC's best paid presenter on £1.35 million over the last financial year, has a reputation for being single minded in his approach to the job. Many BBC insiders say his ongoing outspoken behaviour on Twitter causes some dismay, given renewed attempts to ensure staff remain impartial on social media.

The corporation must stay within the remit of the BBC Charter and also Ofcom. Presenters on radio and TV are often heard apologising for unforeseen circumstances, such as a guest swearing on air.