Hugh Grant: BBC News story on Somerset sighting of actor in Frome draws ridicule

The Bafta and Golden Globe-winning actor reportedly bought ‘a bacon roll, a coffee and a custard slice’

The BBC has been criticised over a “sensational” news story that had social media users up in arms.

Well, “sensational” in a purely ironic sense.

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On 18 April, the BBC News website published a story with the headline, “Hugh Grant spotted in Frome bakery”.

Little could the corporation have known that the story would attract such attention online, though not necessarily for the right reasons.

"Huge if true” was the response of many sarcastic commenters, while others pondered just why they were continuing to pay their license fees.

‘That’s news?!’

"I actually clicked on it to see what happened in the bakery,” said one user. “Turns out nothing.”

Hugh Grant in 2019 (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Indeed, the article was really a piece about Somerset, and how the south-western county has attracted a plethora of celebrity residents over the years.

But it was the story’s angle centred on the sighting of the A-lister in a Frome bakery that caught readers’ attention for being a non-story.

Actor Hugh Grant has been spotted enjoying lockdown easing out shopping in Somerset,” began the BBC’s hard-hitting coverage.

"The Love Actually leading man was seen in Frome on Tuesday, and was recognised by staff at Parsons bakery in Badcox.”

Those dying to know just which goods the actor purchased were not disappointed – Grant reportedly bought “a bacon roll, a coffee and a custard slice.”

The employee who served the star said he was a "very polite and well-spoken gentleman", according to the BBC.

"That’s news?” was the confused outcry from many on Twitter, while others noted Grant’s past thorny relationship with the media in the past.

Others noted the BBC’s recent coverage of the Duke of Edinburgh, which saw the corporation receive 110,000 complaints about its coverage of Philip’s death after it cleared its schedules and put mirrored coverage on BBC One, BBC Two and the news channel.

"What has happened to the BBC?” many asked. "I prefer endless coverage of a royal funeral compared to this garbage,” said another.

‘The media don't like him’

“The media don't like him because he's called them out for harassment in the past,” said one user. “So what's their response to that? Harass him at every opportunity.”

In 2018, Grant settled a phone-hacking damages claim against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) at the High Court, which was thought to involve payment of a six-figure sum, which he donated to the campaigning group, Hacked Off.

At the time, Grant’s lawyer said that as “part of the settlement”, MGN admitted that a number of senior employees “condoned, encouraged or actively turned a blind eye to the widespread culture of unlawful information-gathering activities” at its national newspapers.

She also said the company “actively sought to conceal its wrongdoing from its many victims of intrusion” and admitted intrusions into people’s lives could have been prevented.

Earlier this year, Grant was nominated for a Golden Globe, securing a nod in the Best Performance in a Miniseries or Television Film category for his work in HBO’s, The Undoing.

Where does Hugh Grant live?

According to The Sun, Grant bought a six-bedroom semi-detached home in London's Chelsea area at the end of 2018.

The £17.5 million property is on one of the most exclusive streets in the area.

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