Calls for critic to apologise after branding Ipswich murder victims ‘a bunch of prostitutes’ on BBC Radio 4

Ipswich murder victims
Gemma Adams, Annette Nicholls, Anneli Alderton, Tania Nicol and Paula Clenn

Ipswich murder victims Gemma Adams, Annette Nicholls, Anneli Alderton, Tania Nicol and Paula Clennell - Credit: Archant

A theatre critic has sparked outrage after calling Steve Wright’s Ipswich murder victims “a bunch of prostitutes” live on air.

Mark Shenton, associate editor of The Stage, made the comment in an interview broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 last week.

Now members of the Suffolk Feminist Society have penned an open letter calling on Mr Shenton – who referred to the five women while praising the London Road musical – to apologise for his remarks.

But the theatre expert is staying silent – and has so far refused to comment.

“I think it is outrageous, insensitive and dismissive to dehumanise these women in this way,” said Suffolk Feminist Society founder Helen Taylor.

“The people of Ipswich and Suffolk as a whole remember the murders and the destruction they caused, these women are people, daughters and sisters. It was a cruel jibe.

“Imagine what the families will think of his comments – just a bunch of prostitutes – as they grieve through the tenth anniversary of their daughters’ deaths.

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She added: “It is just disgraceful and the fact he is not responding to our concerns is just outrageous, it makes me very angry.”

Posting their letter on social media under the hashtag #SayTheirNames, the society’s call for an apology has since gone viral.

Mr Shenton was discussing verbatim musicals – a theatre movement where directors use real conversations and create them in a theatrical setting – when he made the comments.

London Road by Rufus Norris was one such musical, which the critic hailed as a “ground-breaking” and “revolutionary” piece of theatre during the show.

But he then said: “It was a very radical musical about the murder of a bunch of prostitutes.”

A BBC Radio 4 spokesman said the organisation will not be commenting as Mr Shenton is not a BBC reporter.

Mr Shenton himself declined to comment.

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