Doctor Who star David Tennant hit by growing backlash over his Kemi Badenoch 'wish her to shut up' jibe

Doctor Who actor David Tennant was facing a growing backlash over his swipe at Cabinet minister Kemi Badenoch over her stance on transgender and women’s rights.

Rishi Sunak intervened in the row earlier this week and a minister on Thursday piled in with heavier criticism.

Equalities Minister Ms Badenoch has said she "will not shut up" after Tennant suggested she should do so at the British LGBT Awards.

Ms Badenoch accused the ex-Doctor Who actor of being a "rich, lefty, white male celebrity so blinded by ideology" in a post to social media website X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday.

Tennant, who won Celebrity Ally at a ceremony on Friday, received cheers and applause when he said of the Conservative Cabinet minister: "I don't wish ill of her, I just wish her to shut up."

On Wednesday, Mr Sunak intervened in the spat which centres on trans rights.

The Prime Minister said: "Freedom of speech is the most powerful feature of our democracy.

"If you're calling for women to shut up and wishing they didn't exist, you are the problem."

On Tuesday, Ms Badenoch had hit back at Tennant and said: "I will not shut up. I will not be silenced by men who prioritise applause from Stonewall over the safety of women and girls.

"A rich, lefty, white male celebrity so blinded by ideology he can't see the optics of attacking the only black woman in government by calling publicly for my existence to end.

"Tennant is one of Labour's celebrity supporters. This is an early example of what life will be like if they win.

"Keir Starmer stood by while Rosie Duffield was hounded. He and his supporters will do the same with the country.

"Do not let the bigots and bullies win."

But Dawn Butler, who is bidding to return to the Commons as the Labour candidate in Brent East, backed the actor.

“Not all Black women think the same,” she tweeted. “I agree with David Tennant.”

Tennant is "one of the LGBTQ+ community's most fierce allies and supporters", according to the British LGBT Awards, and "often does red-carpet interviews while wearing pins associated with the community, with one particular Doctor Who-themed Tardis badge, designed in the colours of the trans Pride flag, helping to raise thousands of pounds for charities".

He said in his acceptance speech: "If I'm honest I'm a little depressed by the fact that acknowledging that everyone has the right to be who they want to be and live their life how they want to live it as long as they're not hurting anyone else should merit any kind of special award or special mention because it's common sense, isn't it?

"It is human decency. We shouldn't live in a world where that is worth remarking on.

"However, until we wake up and Kemi Badenoch doesn't exist any more - I don't wish ill of her, I just wish her to shut up - whilst we do live in this world, I am honoured to receive this.

"I am thrilled to be here and to be a part of this night - Pride is very important in our house, it's a family affair, we have skin in the game, so this event tonight thrills me.

"It gives me hope, it gives me fire, it gives me energy and deep joy, and even if I feel I don't really deserve this, I'm very pleased and very proud to be receiving it."

But business minister Kevin Hollinrake branded Tennnant’s personal attack on Ms Badenoch as “disgraceful”.

“He didn’t just say she should shut up he wished she didn’t exist,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

“I mean we believe in free speech in this country.

“As Ronald Reagan once said, if fascism every returns to this country, he was talking about the US, it will be in the name of liberalism.

“And I think David Tennant’s comments were absolutely outrageous.”

Labour’s shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said she did not support Tennant’s remarks.

She told Times Radio: “I personally don’t like that kind of language that was used.

“And I believe that where we discuss these issues - and it is right that we can have an open discussion about them - that we do so in a way that is absolutely frank but respectful, tolerant, and in keeping with the best traditions within our country.

“And I know that politicians, particularly female politicians, receive an awful lot of abuse sometimes and do frequently face that kind of language being used against them and I don’t think it advances a more tolerant and respectful discussion.”