TV presenter Nick Hancock has admitted he feels “appalled” at himself for mocking the looks of former Manchester United footballer Luke Chadwick on They Think It’s All Over.
Chadwick has said a running gag on the hugely popular football quiz show making fun of the way he looked left him with lowered self-esteem – to the extent that he didn’t want to leave the house.
Talking to the BBC for Mental Health Awareness Week, the two-time Premier League winner said the jokes impacted his mental health.
He said: "In the end, it lowers your self-esteem a lot. That's all I'm known for and spoken about – the way I looked. That isn't right."
Hancock, also speaking to the BBC, admitted the “shame” he feels at the targeted abuse.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast on Monday, Hancock said: "Listening to Luke is incredibly humbling – he's shown so much more generosity and understanding and good judgement than we did at the time.
"I'm appalled for him and at myself. When I hear him speaking, I'm full of admiration for the present Luke Chadwick and full of sympathy for the young Luke Chadwick.
"The terrible thing about comedians and comedy shows is that if you're getting laughs, you think you're doing a good job.
"Of course the worst thing for Luke was that it became a bit of a running joke. To us it was a photograph. That's not good obviously, we should have been thinking about the person, but that's what can happen."
Gary Lineker, a team captain on the show, also spoke of his regret and apologised to Chadwick.
He tweeted: "I was part of that show, therefore, I too would like to apologise to Luke Chadwick for any hurt caused."
Chadwick, who is now a coach at the Cambridge United academy, said he would “dread” the show coming on.
He said: "I wouldn't want to go out. I was always looking at people.
"People knew who I was because I played for Manchester United and I always assumed they'd be saying horrible things.
"Being a quiet, nervous boy anyway, it sort of intensified that and maybe stunted my growth as a person."
They Think It’s All Over ran for 11 years from 1995 on BBC One.