Richard was sacked from the BBC show back in 1998 (Picture: BBC)
The 46-year-old television presenter was sensationally forced to hand in his Blue Peter badge just 18 months into the job after admitting taking cocaine, becoming the first host on the children’s show to have his contract terminated mid-season.
It led the Head of BBC Children’s programmes Lorraine Heggessey to go on air to explain why Richard had been axed from the programme following his ‘late night binge’.
Now, Richard is hosting new Channel 4 documentary Cancelled, which takes a look at how lives and reputations can be ruined overnight with the rise of social media – and he believes things would have been different for him if his exit had happened now.
Speaking to the i, Richard said: ‘I was publicly shamed after Blue Peter. If this happened now, I think I’d still have lost my job, but the response would have been even louder.
‘Back then it was down to the good graces of the newspapers to decide if you’re going to be publicly shamed. These days, it’s down to the actual public to decide who gets publicly shamed.’
Richard and Jimmy are taking a look at cancel culture (Picture: Tom Jenner / Hardcash Production)
He added: ‘That sounds like a positive, democratic move, but I’m not sure it is because what it involves is rushed judgment and Twitter pile-ons. It can be unforgiving.’
Speaking about the impact it had at the time, the presenter went on to say: ‘The Blue Peter incident was such a big public thing at the age of 22. It was so big. Now it doesn’t have to be a big, national event for someone to get that kind of attention.
‘You can experience a pile-on and a cancellation over something you did locally, or something that happened at your college. The psychological impact of that could be absolutely enormous for an individual.’
Richard has hosted the likes of Good Morning Britain and The Big Breakfast (Picture: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)
Cancelled on Channel 4 will see Richard speak to Jimmy Carr, discussing whether he feels the fear of being cancelled when writing jokes, while also contemplating the nature of free speech.
Earlier this year, Richard noted that his sacking would have been ‘more frightening’ if it had been in the age of social media.
‘I want to make a show where we pick a handful of people who were cancelled and debate whether it was right or wrong,’ he said.
‘Cancel culture is about rushing to judgment. I’d love us all to slow down, go, “Stop, let’s think about this. Does this person really deserve never to have a career?”’
Cancelled airs tonight at 10pm on Channel 4