Infamous BBC TV and radio presenter Stephen Nolan has been accused of sending ‘sexually explicit’ images to work colleagues in a grotesque bid to capitalise on controversy over a TV reality star.
Nolan sent “sexually explicit images” in 2016 of a later convicted sex offender to other BBC employees working on his radio and television shows.
The images were of Stephen Bear, a reality television personality now in prison following his conviction for “revenge porn” and voyeurism after he circulated footage of his former girlfriend engaged in sexual activity.
According to the Irish News which obtained the correspondence, images of Bear’s erect penis were circulated by Nolan to BBC staff as he demanded to record a show with him. The messages containing the sexually explicit images were described as “beyond the pale” by one of the recipients in an internal complaint.
Video from the BBC website shows Nolan and Bear posing in “raunchy” outfits as part of a grotesque show subsequently aired featuring the jailed TV star.
At least one former member of Nolan’s team made a formal complaint of bullying against him in connection with his radio show. Two former staff members received counselling for work-related stress. One was referred to a psychiatrist.
Messages between the team reportedly reveal a high level of sexual innuendo and a dislike for other arms of the BBC in the north of Ireland, particularly news, and some of its staff.
Nolan himself refers to Talkback host William Crawley as a “devious c***”. The newsroom was referred to in a similar way.
Nolan made the comment about Crawley after the Talkback presenter raised the former’s salary on air. He earned between £400,000 and £404,999 directly from the public TV licence fee in 2022-23, making him the fifth-best-paid BBC on-air presenter.
Staff members described a “siege mentality”, with Nolan ironically calling his staff “the dissidents” and stating that it is “us against the world” and “everyone is out to get us”.
There are several disparaging messages in the exchange about politicians, including former Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson. Ms Anderson has now asked the BBC to provide a copy of comments relating to her under the Data Protection Act.
The self-styled ‘controversialist’ has been accused in the past of inflaming sectarian tensions by repeatedly featuring loyalists such as ‘UVF-linked’ blogger Jamie Bryson, who he has referred to in the leaked messages as “my wee mate Jamie”.
Bryson has denounced the media interest in Nolan and his broadcasting and threatened retaliation.
“Those who started this will rue the day they did, because what they are trying to do to Nolan can be just as easily done back to them. Every action has a reaction, and for those who start it, unintended consequences,” he wrote in a post on social media.
The broadcaster has made no public comment about the allegations.
Sinn Féin said licence-fee payers deserved transparency and accountability.
“Recent revelations relating to The Nolan Show raise very serious questions for BBC management, which need to be answered candidly. Audience figures and ratings should never lead to the tolerance of bad practice or inappropriate behaviour by radio and TV presenters,” the party said.