The veteran BBC host was interviewing war veteran Craig Winspear on BBC’s Today programme when he made the insensitive comments. Mr Humphrys asked the war hero, who was injured in 2011, “how do people react to you when they see you so dreadfully disfigured?” At this point one listener claimed they had to “turn their radio down” but Mr Winspear took the comment in his stride, answering: “Oddly, you’ll get a lot of people who won’t actually speak to you yourself.
“They’ll always speak to someone about you.
“It’s as if all disabilities have this outcome, as if we can’t speak or we can’t talk – we don’t have the mental capability.
“Which is obviously not true.”
Mr Winspear explained: “I was on patrol out in Afghanistan in December 2011.
“My job was to search and deal with IEDs.
“Unfortunately, on that day I was injured by an IED leaving me with both my legs missing, bad scars to both hands, loss of fingers, loss of use and scarring throughout my body.”
Mr Humphrys replied: “It must have been staggeringly difficult to lead a normal life after that.”
His guest admitted: “It was a rollercoaster – it had its ups and downs but I suppose you adapt and overcome to any situation in life and I suppose I’m at that point now.”
The reaction to the inept interview was one of fury.
One person tweeted: “John Humphrys asking a veteran injured by an IED how people react to him appearing “so dreadfully disfigured”. This phrasing is… not good #bbcr4today.”
Another confirmed: “He then went on to ask him if people saw him as ‘less than human’. The veteran dealt with it brilliantly, but it was awful.”
Some people confessed they had to turn down the interview as it was so intolerable: “I had to turn it down – Humphrys at his most nauseating.”
One person felt that such behaviour was indicative of the BBC, fuming: “The only thing that’s ‘dreadfully disfigured’ is BBC radio 4 today – I’ve just stopped listening altogether.”
Mr Humphrys has announced that this will be his last year as a radio host as he is to step down from the BBC in the coming months.