Chris Harrison confirms departure from The Bachelor over racism row

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Chris Harrison has confirmed he has left The Bachelor franchise after he was called out for defending a contestant accused of racism.

The US TV presenter had been the face of the hugely popular dating show since 2002 but took a step back from hosting duties in February amid the controversy.

The 49-year-old had defended contestant Rachael Kirkconnell after pictures of her attending an antebellum-themed party in 2018 were spotted on the internet.

The presenter asked people to give the contestant "a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion".

However, the comments only served to intensify the debate around race on The Bachelor.

The show has been criticised for a long time over a lack of diversity.

And Chris' permanent departure was confirmed on Tuesday as he wrote on Instagram : "I’ve had a truly incredible run as host of The Bachelor franchise and now I’m excited to start a new chapter.

"I’m so grateful to Bachelor Nation for all of the memories we’ve made together. While my two-decade journey is wrapping up, the friendships I’ve made will last a lifetime."

Chris Harrison said he is 'so grateful' for the role he played in The Bachelor franchise
(Image: ABC)

It was reported by Deadline that the presenter had reached a confidential settlement with show producers over his departure.

In a statement to Us Weekly, Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment said: "Chris Harrison is stepping aside as host of The Bachelor franchise.

"We are thankful for his many contributions over the past 20 years and wish him all the best on his new journey."

The Bachelor and its spin-off The Bachelorette are among the most popular shows currently on US TV.

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The concept sees a singleton begin the show with an array of romantic interests before needing to reduce the potential suitors to one partner who often is then proposed to.

Rachael appeared on series 25 of The Bachelor. It was the first time in the show's history that there was a black bachelor as Matt James went in search of love.

He chose her at the end of the series, but they broke up after the pictures emerged of her at a party with an antebellum theme – meaning pre-American Civil War and before the abolition of slavery.

They are now back together.

Chris had asked people to have 'a little grace'
(Image: ABC)

Chris, defending Rachael to season 13 Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, who is black, said: “We all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion.

"Who is Rachel Lindsay and who is Chris Harrison and who is whatever woke police person out there, who are you (to tell her to speak out)? I’ve heard this a lot of, ‘I think she should’, ‘I think he should’. Who the hell are you? Who are you that you demand that?”

Discussing her temporary leave from the show in February, Chris said: "By excusing historical racism, I defended it. I invoked the term ‘woke police’, which is unacceptable. I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was wrong."

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