Victoria Derbyshire apologises for saying she would break coronavirus ‘rule of six’ if it applies at Christmas

Sean Morrison
·3-min read
Victoria Derbyshire: Dave Benett
Victoria Derbyshire: Dave Benett

Victoria Derbyshire has apologised after saying she would break the rule of six to have her family of seven together this Christmas.

The 52-year-old, whose Bafta-winning current affairs show on the BBC was axed in March amid cuts, had said in an interview that her family knew the risks and would be "sensible" and buy a thermometer gun.

Asked what she would do if things have not changed by Christmas, she told Radio Times: "If the rule of six is still in place at Christmas, we're breaking it to have the rule of seven. We just are.

"Joining me, my husband and our two boys will be my mum, her partner and my husband's dad.

"It's fine. We'll do it knowing what the risks are. We're not stupid.

"We're going to be sensible and buy a thermometer gun. But we have to be together at Christmas.

"It feels almost irresponsible saying that, but I don't think we're alone in feeling that way.

"We need to see my elderly mum and my husband's elderly dad. We just do."

The presenter had said she felt irresponsible saying it, but that she thought many others felt the same way.

But, on Tuesday morning, she apologised for the comments. In two tweets, she wrote: “I’m starting the day by saying I’m sorry: a few weeks ago the Radio Times asked me (amongst other things) what would potentially happen at Christmas with my own family if the rule of six was still in place

"I talked about my mum, her partner & my dad-in-law spending it with us - making seven in our home in a Tier One area (medium). It was hypothetical - however I was totally wrong to say it & I’m sorry. We’ll of course continue to follow whatever rules are in place on Dec 25th."

It came after Dr William Hanage, a professor of the evolution and epidemiology of infectious disease at Harvard University, had criticised the approach. “I can have some sympathy with this, but it’s still about 9,734 miles away from cool,” he said.

Derbyshire shares two sons, Oliver, 16, and Joe, 13, with her husband Mark.

During the interview, she was also asked whether she was missing visiting antiques fairs, one of her favourite pastimes, during lockdown. She replied: "No, what I've missed most is having loads of people round my house and seeing family.

"My mum lives in Bolton, I live in London, so I've not been able to see her much.

"We do Zoom calls every Saturday, but that's it. It's mad."

Her show began in 2015 and broadcasted live on BBC Two and the BBC News channel every weekday from 10am.

Derbyshire discovered that her show was being axed as part of a string of cuts when it was reported in a newspaper before the official announcement was made in January this year.

The programme won a Bafta in 2017 and has been nominated for several awards, including the RTS presenter prize.

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