herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

I'm astonished by online reaction to Gay chat - Fry

STEPHEN Fry had forgotten all about his controversial interview on religion with Gay Byrne until it provoked such an "astonishing" reaction.

Actor Fry sat down with the veteran RTE broadcaster for his programme The Meaning of Life and discussed his spirituality.

The resulting interview sparked a worldwide reaction and was watched almost five million times online.

Fry's list of questions for God included: "How dare you create a world in which there is such misery?"

The Englishman, who is an atheist, said he was glad the outburst had generated so much debate.

offensive

"I don't think I mentioned once any particular religion and I certainly didn't intend to say anything offensive towards any particular religion," he told BBC radio.

"I said quite a few things that were angry at this supposed God. I was merely saying things that Bertrand Russell and many finer heads than mine have said for hundreds of years.

"I was astonished that it caused so viral an explosion on Twitter and elsewhere.

"I'm most pleased I think that it's got people talking. I'd never wish to offend anybody who is individually devout or pious and goes about their religious ways.

"Indeed, many Christians have been in touch with me and said they are very grateful that things are being talked about."

Fry (57), who recently married his 27-year-old partner, stand-up comedian Elliot Spencer, said he had never set out to cause offence to anyone or any religion.

Byrne was quick to defend Fry. He said viewers were "getting much more excited about it than I am".

Away from his brush with controversy, the actor's marriage is going well.

"To know that one is conjoined in a legal way ought to be nonsense but it makes me very, happy," he said.

Fry and Elliot will be flying off on honeymoon after tomorrow night's BAFTAs ceremony, which Fry hosts.

His interview with Byrne, which was recorded in December, coincided with his visit to Dublin to present Rory O'Neill, aka Pantibliss, with a People of the Year Award.

hnews@herald.ie

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