Footballer Joey Barton has apologised after claiming Ukip's European election victory made them the best of "four really ugly girls" on the BBC's Question Time.
The controversial QPR midfielder, 31, who has one cap for England, made the comment in a heated exchange with new Ukip MEP Louise Bours on last night's show.
Dismissing Ukip's euro election win as a protest vote he told her: "All you represent to me as Ukip is the best of a bad bunch.
"So if I am somewhere and there were four really ugly girls I'm thinking 'well, she's not the worst', because that is all you are, that is all you are to us."
After nervous gasps and laughter from the audience at Heathrow's Terminal 2 building, Ms Bours, a new MEP for the north west, accused Barton of "ignorance" and having his "brains in his feet".
An audience member later confronted Barton about his remark. saying: "I was with you in some of the things you said (but) I think the analogy you made of four ugly girls, that's going to be on Twitter tonight and tomorrow, you'll be buried for it."
Barton replied: "I do apologise - I couldn't think of a better one, this is the first time I have ever done it (Question Time).
"As Louise rightly pointed out my brains are in my feet, which is an equally offensive statement.
"Maybe I was a little bit nervous, I apologise."
Afterwards Barton took to Twitter, telling fellow panellist, former News of the World editor Piers Morgan: "I may have upset one or two women with an ill conceived metaphor. #imnewtothis."
He later added: "Should have left it at 'Best of a bad bunch' Ah well #imnewtothis @bbcquestiontime."
Barton, who was called "football's philosopher king" at the start of the show, is well known for holding court on political issues on Twitter. But he has a checkered history on and off the football pitch.
In 2004 he was fined six weeks' wages by then-club Manchester City after he stubbed a lit cigar in the eye of young team-mate Jamie Tandy during a Christmas party.
In 2007 he received a suspended jail sentence and was given a 12-match ban for a training ground altercation with team-mate Ousmane Dabo, which left him needing hospital treatment.
The following year he was jailed for six months for common assault and affray after a late-night attack on a man in his native Liverpool.
A BBC spokeswoman said: " Joey Barton was robustly challenged on his comments by both the panel and the audience. He apologised on the programme, putting his comment down to nerves.
"Question Time often features journalists, comedians, campaigners and other public figures to add a different perspective to the panel."