Good Morning Britain’s resident weatherman challenged his colleague and shared his own painful experience of racism without even breaking a sweat, all while his opponent stormed off in a fury.
The viral clash instantly promoted Alex to hero status and was the final dramatic showdown Piers would ever have on the breakfast show he helmed for more than five years.
It has also led to worthy calls for Alex to replace Piers, who quit Good Morning Britain just hours later.
However there was one moment during the debate that really stood out for me.
In the middle of their fateful clash, Piers suggested that he was the reason Alex sat on the panel that morning.
‘I wanted you on the show today because you sent me a really thoughtful and nuanced message about all this and I thought we could have a thoughtful nuanced conversation,’ Piers explained to Alex once he’d returned from storming off.
At the time – hours before he quit the news programme – Piers was a gatekeeper of GMB as an anchor and undeniable ratings driver. So, if he asked producers to invite Alex as a guest that day, chances are it would happen.
However while that may be true, Alex more than deserved a seat at that table on his own merit.
Until the weatherman delivered his perfectly executed monologue, no other GMB presenter had challenged Piers on his divisive views about the Royal racism scandal or Meghan Markle’s mental health with the full vim it needed.
After all, that’s what Piers thrived on the most wasn’t it? A strong debate that would rile up viewers.
Well, Alex played his part like a seasoned pro.
In the minute or so that he called out Piers’ unrelenting criticism of Meghan, Alex showed the maturity, grace, eloquence and level-head that is required of a worthy news anchor.
To explain racism to a white person is exhausting enough and, particularly after events of the last year, increasingly draining.
But, having to relive a personal experience of racism to a colleague on national television? That’s a level of trauma only a small proportion will ever have to go through.
Still, Alex did it all with an admirable amount of professionalism that many would struggle to maintain in the height of emotions.
It proved, to me and apparently thousands of others on social media, that Alex was capable of stepping up to the plate and sitting beside Susanna Reid permanently, if not on a more regular basis.
Commanding the hot seat of a staple news programme means having to face all kinds of polarising figures, such as politicians and celebrities, and not being afraid to hold them to account.
While holding Piers to account, Alex exhibited honesty, strength and warmth which evidently appealed to a large scope of ITV’s audience based on reactions that so obviously favoured him following the debate.
It certainly wouldn’t be wrong to suggest he become more of a regular fixture on the panel. Alex has justified why he should be considered as more than just a filler in the absence of the main presenters on the programme.
A Black or mixed race person winning always feels like a win for the community at large – Alex’s name has been thrown into the hat but Ranvir Singh also did a great job of hosting alongside Susanna following Piers’ departure.
However, they shouldn’t be considered just to fill an inclusive quota – they need to have the range for the job, which these two contenders obviously do.
Piers knew how to cause a stir but Alex has demonstrated that grace and eloquence can go a long way too.
Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview: Key moments
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have spoken to Oprah Winfrey in a bombshell interview about their decision to step back as senior working members of the Royal Family.
Here are the key points from the interview, which UK viewers can watch at 9pm on ITV on Monday, March 8.
- Meghan says it was Kate who made her cry over flower girls, not other way round
- Meghan says Harry was told there were ‘concerns how dark’ Archie would be
- Harry and Meghan reveal the gender of their baby due in summer
- Meghan sobs as she says pressures of royal life drove her to the verge of suicide
- Prince Charles stopped taking Harry’s calls after he quit Royal Family
- Harry says Meghan saved him from being ‘trapped’ like Prince Charles and Prince William are
- Princess Diana would be ‘sad and angry about how this has panned out’
- Meghan and Harry share adorable new video of son Archie at the beach
- Harry confirms terrible rift with William and says their relationship is now just ‘space’
- Queen ‘ghosted Harry during Megxit talks and got aide to say she was too busy’