Australian TV legend Bert Newton has landed himself in hot water over a speech he gave at Sunday night’s Logie Awards on the Gold Coast. Audiences weren’t quite sure what to make of Newton’s speech.
The 79-year-old presenter, who has hosted the Logies on a number of occasions, took to the stage with a lengthy monologue at TV’s night of nights. He was initially met with cheers and applause from the star-studded audience, telling the crowd he was “back where I belong” and had the honour of presenting the Graham Kennedy award for Most Popular New Talent.
“As I look out on the audience, I’ve got to be honest,” he said. “There are many faces I know from the screen but don’t know them personally. You might feel the same way. Where has this old poof come from?”
The live audience laughed, while viewers at home weren’t sure what to make of Newton’s comment. As you may recall, the term is one often deemed offensive by those within the LGBT community.
One person on Twitter wrote: “I’m pretty sure Bert Newton just either outed himself (finally) or was outright homophobic”.
Another said: “As a gay male, I can honestly say that Bert Newton’s use of the word poof on stage at #Logies2018 when referring to himself was definitely not offensive”.
A third added: “I’m so sorry for all the lgbt+ actors and producers and crew who were in the audience at the #Logies and all those of the community who had to watch Bert Newton so casually use a gay slur – it’s not okay, and it’s ridiculous that it’s being treated as such”.
The former Good Morning Australia host also cracked jokes about his late friend Graham Kennedy when he was on stage.
“Speaking of young talent, Graham Kennedy was always the sort of man who nurtured young talent,” Newton said. “He enjoyed giving young people a chance on television, he was a great mentor, he mentored a lot of young people. You knew if you went to his dressing room it was locked, he will be inside doing some mentoring,”
That part of the speech was met with shock from the live audience, while again, people at home vented their confusion on Twitter. Some thought he was sending the wrong message by joking about sexual abuse.
“Interesting choice for Bert Newton to imply Graham Kennedy was a serial sexual abuser while presenting an award named in his honour,” one person said.
Another added: “Did Bert Newton just make a joke about sexual harassment? WTF?”
A further message read: “When Bert Newton leaves the stage, will someone explain to him about the #metoo movement? Making jokes about “mentoring behind closed dressing room doors” is not funny”.
Others praised the star for giving an honest speech.
“Waiting for all the Tweets from the PC brigade screaming how inappropriate Bert Newton was. I reckon he was awesome and the joke obviously lost on them,” one message read.
Another said: “Loving Bert Newton. He’s not holding back. Well done. He deserves his time on stage”.
Earlier in the show, host Dave Hughes also caused controversy with his opening number.