Former Blue Peter presenter Anthea Turner apologised this morning after posting a cartoon of an overweight woman in a wheelchair eating McDonalds berating a thinner lady wearing no PPE in messages about ‘coronavirus selfishness’.
Turner, 60, had posted the image on social media alongside the phrase ‘Go for it x’ before embarking on a series of messages criticising lockdown and personal responsibility on health.
But the decision to speak out appeared to have backfired with some of her fans who turned on her, claiming the image was ignorant and offensive to people disabled through no choice of their own.
It came hours after she had posted link to a report on obesity being a bigger killer than smoking in England and Scotland.
This morning she said sorry for the cartoon, but insisted it had not meant to target people who were clinically ill.
She said: ‘Totally apologise that the cartoon is clumsy – I’ll take the rollicking on the chin
‘But this was never directed at people clinically ill who need our support. My passion is sincere though Covid has to give us a bloody big health wake-up call and we’d be nuts not to try and fix it.’
Turner – who is engaged to businessman Mark Armstrong – posted her original message and cartoon picture just after 7pm last night.
Former Blue Peter presenter Anthea Turner sparked the row last night after posting the image
The picture was captioned ‘Go for it!! X’ and many Twitter users certainly did – to slam her view
She appeared to suggest the conditions of lockdown were wrong and needed to be changed
It showed an overweight woman in a motorised wheelchair wearing a facemask, clutching a McDonald’s bag and glaring at a woman without a mask and telling her ‘Put a mask on! You’re putting my health at risk’.
She followed it up with a series of messages questioning if people who did not look after their own health should be prioritised in the pandemic over those who had.
Turner said: ‘I’m incensed by the selfish attitudes of people who can’t see we actually are “all in this together” and wilful destruction has an impact on us all especially those with other illnesses pushed down the line and charities who are missing out on funding.
‘We have to take responsibility.
Labour MP Jess Phillips led some of the condemnation of Turner’s remarks this morning
Twitter rounded on the entertainer, with one mother of a disabled change finding it offensive
‘If the government put half the amount of money into health as they have in locking us up we wouldn’t be in this mess.
‘Keep McDonald’s open and close gyms many council run and open air – Great.’
While there were some people who agreed with the sentiment others seized on the disability element of the message to attack the presenter.
Piers Morgan branded her ‘despicable’ after she posted the picture.
He said ‘What the hell is this? Have you lost your mind, Anthea? Just despicable.’
Labour MP Jess Phillips said: ‘The Anthea Turner thing this morning has just about done me in.
‘I just wish the idiots would just admit that the wind on their face is more important than my sister in laws life while she has chemo.
‘Stop with the god damn hierarchy of whose life matters!!!’
Johanna Jones, who is the mother of a child with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, also took offence at the message.
Turner is known for her stint presenting Blue Peter and was famous for her making segments
She said: ‘How dare you, how ignorant can one person be?
‘I have a son who is a full-time wheelchair user and overweight due to his medication, he is severely medically vulnerable and relies on us who are able to, to wear a mask to keep him safe.
‘Very poor choice of a visual for your argument.’
Turner also addressed one Twitter user who asked how her late sister Ruth would feel about her post.
She has spoken previously about how she had died aged just 15 after suffering with Spina Bifida.
Turner told the social media user: ‘I’ll tell you, Ruth was born with a body that didn’t work and would have done anything to have had legs that worked she didn’t wilfully destroy herself by lifestyle choices that endanger us all in the end.’
Reports have been done into how a lack of physical inactivity during the COVID-19 pandemic could significantly worsen people’s health conditions.
Professor Paul Greenhaff, from the Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, said a research paper showed inactivity was linked with increased risk of mortality and significant problems such as cardiovascular disease and poor metabolic health.
Professor Greenhaff added in May: ‘It is of genuine concern that physical inactivity and sedentary behaviours are likely to be common during the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘This is clearly of significant concern in the current circumstances of social distancing and isolation, which is likely to continue for several months.’