Tuesday, 9 October 2012

You couldn't make it up

Monday 8th October was, shall we say, interesting.
News of my last blog had got to 5 Live. They were on the phone first thing. Believe me, I haven't made a habit of leaving my number with news organisations, but they all seem to have it when they need it. It's quite spooky.

Would you be interviewed by Richard Bacon just after 2pm? About your blog comments?

Not a problem. And that was it, until just before 2 when they called and set the whole thing in technical motion. No researcher asking me for further details. No idea of length of interview. Nothing.

Suddenly : On Air.

Immediately my suspicions were raised as Richard introduced Jackie Brambles as a co-interviewee. Nice move - get the female point of view. Shame they didn't tell me in advance - I never worked with Jackie and we occupied different era at Radio 1. Would have been nice to do some research.
The interview started and it had all the feeling of a pre-arranged agenda. Which would be fine if the participants had received the same briefing. We hadn't. Jackie somewhat ruined their plot by agreeing with me.
From the tone of Richard's questioning, the rush to get everything in and his repeated questions "Are you calling Liz Kershaw a liar?" I knew instantly that I had been trapped. This was not about my blog. But I could hardly do a Gary Barlow and stomp off when such delicate issues are being discussed.

I stuck with it and tried in vain to get my points over. In one exchange Richard asked me "When isn't it a crime?" To which I replied that when it's between consenting adults and it may have been misconstrued as joshing around. That got me attacked on Twitter. Not by people who had listened to the whole interview - but by people who believed a tweet saying that I had disregarded Liz Kershaw's complaint as mucking around.

People hear what they want to hear. I'm male, I was a Radio 1 DJ - so I must be part of the problem. The best comment I've seen is the one on my original blog from Joss Sanglier - neatly sums up his experiences and makes good points.

So - 5 Live.
 I agreed to go back on later. They called and said they had had some text reactions to my comments. Would I come back on? Sure.

So at 3.56pm began a rushed session lasting less than 5 minutes. In that I was confronted not by texts, but by a woman on the phone. Again, no warning. No briefing. All over in a flash.
Then the trouble started.

A Mail journalist, who must spend all day listening to 5 Live for free stories, tweeted his mate - another Mail journalist. Neatly tucked in his 140 character allowance, he found space to call me a "prick". Somehow these tweets must have got picked up by a Telegraph writer who published what can only be described, at best, as a precis of what was actually broadcast. This was plastered with a headline claiming that I'd said the Savile "witch hunt" must be stopped.
I was actually referring not to the apparent crimes of someone who should never have been knighted, but to the wider accusations raised by Liz Kershaw last weekend. Which is what my blog was about - and which is why 5 Live had me on the radio.
A little bit of detective work using social media and I quickly established that Susanna Reid of BBC Breakfast had retweeted Richard Bacon's tweet which linked to the Telegraph story.
I may never get to the full facts behind all of this. But it is plain that when it comes to reporting stories, some people are really happy to publish without checking sources.
At about 7pm last night, in the dark, a journalist from the Telegraph turned up at our house and asked if I have anything further to add.
"Anything further to add? Well, it would have been nice if the Telegraph called me before publishing their story. Other than that, nothing." She left.

Tuesday October 9th
Story still carried by the Telegraph. Mail rips it off, changes a few words and claims it for itself. Then, Tuesday pm, The Sun does likewise. Another curiosity, after the Met's press briefing this afternoon both the Mail and The Sun have removed their stories.

I've done my best. I stepped forward purely to defend the reputations of innocent people and to ensure that proper investigations take place. The Met stated that they have 120 lines of investigation. So, hopefully, it won't take long to resolve the horrors of J Savile. And they say that they are not investigating the BBC. So that surely clears the way for the BBC to conduct its own investigation on the sexual abuse claims made by both Liz Kershaw and Janet Street-Porter this week.

As a society we can take heart that things are not, now, as bad as the Mad Men days. But sexual abuse and harassment is all too frequently still happening across our lives. We must get better.

Listen to today's Womans Hour and form your own opinions.


  1. Well Mike, this surely confirms things - it IS a witch hunt, and you have upset an awful lot of the organisations and individuals involved in this witch hunt by placing your finger firmly on the red button.
    Take Jimmy Savile, probably then times his "misdeeds" by several thousand ignoring the fact that "blokes who like their banana's green" were everywhere in the entertainment industry in the 60s, 70s & 80s and Jimmy wasn't that unusual in that respect (hence nobody really bothered about it and it just became folklore). Then look for a useful "angle".
    Bear in mind The Sun and The Daily Heil have had in for the BBC for years and have been licking their wounds since the Leveson Enquiry after having their immoral wings clipped - hmmm.... oh yes, let's invent a "Radio 1 Paedo Ring" rumour, implicate everyone and sit back... In came Liz Kershaw armed with a grudge, and in an instant made it seem that pre-Bannister R1 was basically a 25-year den of sexism and abuse, as if Jimmy Savile had handed down some evil baton on his arrival there in 1968 and every DJ - including John Peel - had taken it and ran.

    I'm very disappointed that powers that be at the BBC haven't so far had the balls to make any kind of stance about this attack on the corporation other than to talk crap about "investigations" and removing gravestones and plaques - there are plenty of rock star who are known to have eaten plenty of "green banana's" over the years but I think you'll find no-one will demonise them - dead or alive, they are far too valuable a commodity to the multi-nationals who advertise - and thus fund - all the commercial media. So that doesn't make it right, but it does make it a "Witch Hunt" and one they are extending to three decades of Radio One and Top Of The Pops. We shouldn't be picking and choosing our 'villains' - either pursue all who engaged in underage sex years ago or just accept times change and that was the past.
    There is a lot to defend (possibly even with Savile, facts have to remain facts instead of headline-grabbing fiction about him running amok with everybody's favourite cartoon whipping boy Gary Glitter) and a lot of peoples reputations to defend amidst this heinous assault on a whole era. If the BBC can't provide any backbone at this time against the disgraced tabloids then who can???

  2. I could repeat everything Chris Retro has already put here but I couldn't agree more. The last week has been a complete and utter farce. I just hope that heads will one day role with the newspaper empires though I fear not as the damage has already been done.

  3. Chris and Steve - As I have written in my own blog, many parts of the industry stank back then - not just at the BBC but the music industry, the independent sector and the press.


    Many, many people were fine and honest and decent people - but there were a lot who were simply lecherous gits. The trouble was that some of these were in positions of power - either as personalities or as bosses, and not only did they believe they could get away with it, but they actually DID get away with it.

    There were tons of rumous kicking around about all different people. But this is an industry of backstabbing and you never knew what was true and what was not. In your gut you knew some of this was true, but it was only a feeling - you couldn't prove it.

    So, you enjoyed working with the nice people, and you clenched your teeth and got on with it when you had to deal with some of the others.

    The media industry was changing back then, very rapidly. There was the new band of presenters and bosses, almost Yuppies, and they were less interested in staying up till 3 in the morning at certain hotel bars round Broadcasting House. Mike was one of those - from my experience he tended to go home at the end of the day.

    Some of the older guard? Well, you went out on the town with them at your peril!

    As for the attacks on the BBC - well, that is because this has started with Saville. That will change if some start bringing out the stories about other personalities not linked with the Beeb.

    Will this turn into a witch hunt?

    Perhaps. But you know - if some of those stepped over that blurred line, well they deserve everything that gets thrown at them.

    You cant "blame it on the 70s" - It is wrong now, and it was wrong then.

  4. Dear Mr Smith

    Just to say well done on your comments to Radio Five Live this week. You are a rare voice of sanity in a world that is in the process of going mad.

    I am just an ordinary member of the public who has never worked in the media and wouldn't know one end of a TV or radio studio from the other.

    Nevertheless it is very sad to see how it has become so fashionable to belittle and attack the good things about the past. As horrendous as the things that Jimmy Savile seems to have done are, the furore over his actions is very conveniently being used as a stick to further this kind of agenda.

    The disgraceful attack on Radio 1 being a case in point. Without knowing anything about who did what or who groped who, one thing I do know is that Radio 1 in the 1980s was light years better than it is today. You should encourage your readers to check out the excellent clips on www.radiorewind.co.uk to see what I mean. As an 11 year old in 1987, I remember your breakfast show with great affection. The BBC massively over-reacted against the Smashie and Nicey satire in the early 90s, threw the baby out with the bathwater and it has been downhill ever since. But notice how they never miss an opportunity to put the boot into the old Radio 1 and the people who loyally worked for them.

    Same with all these "biopics", otherwise known as hatchet jobs on people who are dead so can't sue. Admittedly the Kenny Everett one was OK, but many others such as the one on Steptoe & Son were based on blatent, outrageous lies.

    Good luck with the blog.

  5. I have nothing further to say and I simply hope that the BBC investigation into Liz Kershaw's wider accusations is thorough and fair. And public.
    As I have said from the beginning of this week, I am not commenting about JS - except to repeat that on the 2 occasions I met him at R1 I found him to be disturbingly weird. And I had no wish to get to know him.

  6. Well said Mike. And I sympathise about Five Live. Ann Widdecombe refused to even answer their calls for a period. They treat "guests" like cattle. They should be ashamed of themselves.
    You've started your blog off with a "bang" - that's for sure. I look forward to your further posts. It would be great to hear what you are up to these days. i remember you on Capital in the early days. You were a damned good deejay.

  7. Oh and I was a contestant on Quiz Kid '75 in Taunton! I see you worked on the programme... It was great to meet Alan Freeman. A real legend.

  8. Our Liz has been in the news again this week with her "Not One Single Female Presenter in over 54 BBC Radio Breakfast shows" statement On News Night earlier in the week, I didn't see it myself and I can't find it, but one (@Tweeter_Anita) Radio3 Lady Breakfast co-presenter was not impressed and surprised that the BBC had that many radio stations?

  9. What a shocker that the family of a male journalist who killed himself this week is suggesting part of his breakdown goes back to sexual harrassment from a woman at the BBC about five years ago, at a BBC local radio station Liz Kershaw appears to have worked at!!


    and one of the shows she used to run at that station was called "Liz'll Fix it"


    You really couldn't make this stuff up!!

    1. Liz has been names as the person who was responsible for the harrassment so interesting how quiet she is now. so sad

  10. Mike, I wonder what you think about Liz now. She has been exposed as the bully behind the suicide of Russell Joslin and of course whilst we do not know all the facts, the one fact that speaks volumes is that she has gone very quiet all of a sudden. I wonder why she wont speak up for herself now !

  11. remember your breakfast show with great affection. The BBC massively over-reacted against the Smashie and Nicey satire in.......

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