ELLEN DeGeneres has opened up for the first time about the one word she wasn't allowed to say on air in the early days of her talk show.
It wasn't the F-word, or the C-bomb, either: no, the reigning queen of daytime television was banned from saying "we”.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show may now be celebrating 15 wildly successful years on air, but - as DeGeneres explained to Ryan Seacrest on his radio show this week - there were a lot of nervous producers during the first season who didn't want her to allude to being a lesbian on air.
"I remember there was something that happened to my finger, and I was in a relationship and I was going to say 'we,' and they wouldn't let me say 'we' [on camera] because somebody would all of a sudden picture a woman in my life,” she said.
At that point, her sexuality was no secret, either. DeGeneres had previously revealed she was gay, having famously come out in an episode of her sitcom, Ellen. She'd also publicly dated actress Anne Heche (she's now married to Portia de Rossi).
Even so, the show's creators were concerned about the impact her personal life would have upon the show.
"This was a show that nobody wanted to buy,” she explained to Seacrest.
"They really didn't think anyone would watch a lesbian during the day and, at the time, no one wanted to see a lesbian at night either. So I was really out of options.”
"It felt horrible [about hiding my relationship] because I had worked so hard to be truthful and to come to terms with my shame of hiding something that I knew was not wrong, but society was telling me was wrong,” she added.
"So I thought, 'first of all, I lost a lot of the audience because I came out, and then I'm going to now lose the audience that supports me - that is gay or supportive - because I'm going to hide it.'
"It's a hard balance. I know this is a business, and I know that I have to appeal to everyone, but I think what's more appealing than anything is honesty.”
Luckily, DeGeneres got the last laugh: she's one of the richest TV stars in Hollywood, with an eye-watering salary of $69 million and a worldwide network of adoring fans.
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