The fashion expert turned television presenter is perhaps better known now for her string of television programmes in which she helps revive the fortunes of struggling shops. Portas is also campaigning to save Britain’s High Streets and has led a government review on the issue.
While her television shows may have won over audiences they haven’t always won favourable reviews. In an interview conducted at the Edinburgh TV Festival the presenter was quite vocal about her critics and her opinions of them. Portas is quoted by Media Guardian as saying “There is a culture in the media at the moment, in reviews, that you have to be really clever and you have to have a side, it’s got to have an edge”.
On Sunday Times critic AA Gill’s review of her 2007 debut in Mary Queen of Shops Portas said “I have blocked it out of my mind, it was so bad. I couldn’t even speak it was so horrible. He’s an incredibly talented writer, he is clever, but it’s just not the truth”
Portas was also critical of the Daily Mail columnist Liz Jones “It’s this culture, this slightly sociopathic attitude that TV critics have to write … I don’t think he’s got an emotional filter. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I wrote what he wrote. It’s become an art form now, writers like Julie Burchill or Liz Jones in the Mail. You are clinically mad writing that.”
Portas is not the first person to take issue with Liz Jones and her column. In February of this year the columnist wrote a scathing attack on BBC presenter Clare Balding and in 2012 Jones was critical of This Morning presenter Holly Willoughby for putting a photo of herself without any make-up on on Twitter.
In fact the Daily Mail has several columnists which have fallen foul of readers and sparked outrage over the previous few years. Jones is by no means alone in causing upset with Jan Moir another famous example; earlier this year she suffered a backlash when she criticised the Opera singer Katherine Jenkins for apparently wearing make-up to run the London Marathon.
Moir’s most famous blunder though was in the wake of the death of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately when she used his tragic death to attack civil partnerships. The article sparked thousands of complaints and resulted in Moir being named Stonewall‘s Bigot of the Year for 2009.
The less-than-prestigious award has gone to Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips in 2011 while Mail on Sunday writer Richard Littlejohn and Peter Hitchens have written numerous articles on the issue of homosexuality.
Littlejohn faced particular criticism earlier this year for a column he wrote on transgender teacher Lucy Meadows in which he was critical of her decision to carry-on teaching while having gender re-assignment. Tragically Lucy Meadows later committed suicide and Littlejohn’s article came under heavy criticism.
Mary Portas made her television debut in 2007 in the BBC Two series Mary Queen of Shops which was followed in 2009 by Mary Queen of Charity Shops. Portas swapped BBC Two for Channel 4 and has since gone on to front Mary Portas: Secret Shopper, Mary Queen of Frocks, Mary’s Bottom Line and Mary Queen of the High Street.