GMB: Meghan Markle and Harry slammed by Humphrys

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The BBC legend returns to TV screens tonight for one of his final episodes of Mastermind. Humphrys is stepping down from the quiz show after 18 years and will be replaced by BBC News anchor Clive Myrie. The 77-year-old is renowned for tackling the tougher topics faced by modern-day Britain and seldomly shies away from making his opinions known.

Humphrys notably took a stance against Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey last month and several other issues.

The TV star called out the “contradiction” of their demands for privacy while talking to the “most famous TV celebrity on the planet”, in a Daily Mail column.

In a YouGov article last year, the “ardent republican” called to abolish the monarchy and questioned: “How many hand-shakers do we need?”

Humphrys also took aim at Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the EU during the coronavirus vaccine row and most recently universities.

In a piece for the Daily Mail last week, he wrote about the declining ability to “spell or use punctuation accurately”.

The former Today host, who retired from BBC Radio 4 in 2019, was infuriated by vice-chancellors and professors being told to overlook those issues.

Humphrys vented about universities saying: “If you can’t… write basic, simple, reasonably grammatical English, don’t worry about it.”

It followed some institutions telling students they “won’t lose any marks” for those errors in their exams through a policy “called ‘inclusive assessments’”.

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Humphrys believes this change was implemented because universities were “afraid” of being “viewed as ‘homogenous North European, white, male, elite’”.

Hull University, Worcester University, University of the Arts London and others have all considered changes that would penalise students less for those mistakes.

Humphrys believed the decision not to mark down pupils for spelling and grammar was concerning because of how “vital” it is in life. 

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He wrote: “Do I detect the influence of the all-powerful woke brigade somewhere here?”

The TV star explained that universities had sought to correct spelling and grammar “since the Middle Ages”.

He believed the new practice would “not be levelling up” but actually “dumbing down”. 

Humphrys said it might seem “a commendable policy” as it could help international students and those with different educational levels – but believed it would negatively impact everyone.

His view was shared by Professor Frank Furedi, from Kent University, who believed students would suffer as a result of the change.

He told the Daily Mail that “inclusive assessments” were a product of “social engineering” but they would “violate the norms of academic education”.

Prof Furedi believed “lowering standards of assessment” would “lower [the] expectation of what students should achieve”.

The Hungarian-Canadian academic said: “Worse, normalisation of illiteracy flatters instead of educates students.”

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Humphrys branded the changes “Grade A nonsense” that would “achieve the opposite” of the intended goals.

He argued that spelling, punctuation and grammar are “not just ‘important’, they are vital”.

The star recalled the beliefs of “trendy self-styled ‘educationists’” in the Sixties who thought the rules of grammar “imprisoned” children “in linguistic jails run by white males”.

Instead, Humphrys believed “the opposite” was true and explained: “We are not imprisoned by grammar, we are liberated by it.”

He argued “clarity” was extremely important and felt “ambiguity” was a tool politicians used “to pull a fast one on an unsuspecting public”.

But Humphrys did concede that there needed to be more flexibility with writing and argued against “every rule” being “obeyed”.

He also called for calm from the “humourless stickless” who “defended grammar” and would make “splitting an infinitive… a capital crime”.

After Humphrys wrote his first book, which was about the English language, he too was “accused” of “being a pedant” in one Amazon review.

Humphrys said: “It did not help my accuser’s case that what he actually wrote was ‘pendant.’”

John Humphrys stars on Mastermind which airs from 8pm on BBC Two.

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