Malaysia missing aircraft coverage: complaint to the BBC

After one of the most unsightly media scrums I have ever seen – including a mad chase up a moving down-escalator – I felt that BBC News coverage had gone way beyond self-parody:

“It was unclear to me this morning whether I was watching BBC News or Drop The Dead Donkey. Your coverage from Malaysia has been poor throughout, being based almost entirely on heresay and speculation, but reached a new low in impartiality and objectiveness when your crew spent the morning chasing Chinese people around a hotel lobby before getting all righteously indignant when the authorities, quite rightly, stepped in to end the scrum.

It was gutter journalism worthy of News International, not the country’s premier news service. I was ashamed of the BBC this morning, I really was. “Enthusiastic amateurs” was the kindest way of describing you.

Please get your act together and remember that you are supposed to be respected news-reporting professionals.”

Campaign for BBC to ban “er”

Rant at the BBC after a particularly irritating news piece this morning:


Please could I request a BBC-wide ban on “er”?

This started out as an irritating affectation by Robert Peston your business editor, but has spread like verbal chlamydia to other reporters.

In Robin Brant’s live two-minute discussion with the studio this morning I counted no fewer than 23 “er”s, some very extended and Pestonesque.

This affectation is irritating, distracting and unnecessary. If the correspondent is searching for appropriate words, then a pause is far less intrusive. It’s basic media training.


Paul Harper

Unfunny Newsreaders

Rant at the BBC sent during another piss-poor morning show:


PLEASE can someone tell Simon McCoy to just stick to reading the news? His attempts at being amusing during the morning News Channel broadcasts are juvenile and embarrassing. He unfailingly manages to bring to a grinding halt a programme already suffering from a lack of pace and relevance. He is not as funny as he thinks he is and the overall impression given is that of enthusiastic amateurism – well below the standards expected of BBC News.

Paul Harper

Older Women on TV

I was a little ahead of the curve on this one – I wrote this letter to the Independent before the fuss over the removal of a female BBC CountryFile presenter on age grounds:


I find it difficult to believe that I am alone in getting very irritated at the whiny older women who complain so bitterly about being under-represented on television these days.

Someone really should point out to them that the reason their management specifically, and the public in general, have lost interest in them is not because of their gender and not because of their age, but because of their whining. It’s boring!

Rantzen, O’Reilly, Philips, Scott and the like all forgot that they were here to keep us entertained, not be part of some misguided sexist campaign on behalf of their own small demographic. I miss Moira Stuart, though, who was dropped because her cut-glass delivery was at variance to the regionalisation of the BBC and not for any other reason.

Older women will always be under-represented on television for as long as the chips on their shoulders are bigger than the public’s interest in them. Lose the chips and they might be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

Paul Harper

Robert Peston

Robert Peston, the BBC’s economics editor is one of my favourite hate figures. I had enough one afternoon when I read a piece by him and felt I had to reply in the comments:

Is there, PLEASE!, the remotest possibility of you filing a piece totally free of first-person pronouns? There is nobody as bad as you at littering their work with “I”, “me” and the like. It is seriously off-putting when two of the first six words in a report are “I”, and they form an almost impenetrable barrier to taking anything else in the piece seriously. Your desire to be seen as being at the centre of changing events is understandable, but you really need to resist the temptation to give the impression that events actually revolve around you, like some sort of journalistic black hole at the centre of the galaxy.

Which the BBC shortly thereafter removed, sending me the email:

> Dear BBC blog contributor,
> Thank you for contributing to a BBC blog. Unfortunately we’ve had to remove your comment below.
> Comments on the BBC blogs may be removed if they are considered likely to provoke, attack or offend others, use swear words, or disrupt the message boards. For more information, please visit
> Please note that anyone who seriously or repeatedly breaks the House Rules may have action taken against their account.
> Please do not reply to this email. For information on appeals visit
> Regards,
> BBC Central Communities team

Which I responded with:


I see no valid reason to reject my blog entry. It uses no bad language, it is non-inflammatory and non-provocative. All it is, is critical of Mr Peston’s writing style. Lest Mr Peston be given the erroneous impression that he has an uncritical audience, please could you at least make sure he has seen the post?


Paul Harper

I didn’t get a reply…

Eddie Jordan

A short rant at the BBC on the topic of Eddie Jordan’s efforts during the BBC’s Formula 1 broadcasts:


Please would you consider not using Eddie Jordan on future F1 broadcasts? His comments are at best banal and at worst self-serving. Every question seems to completely stump him, he waffles, blusters and seems to look for any opportunity to mention his own name. Today’s grid-walk with Martin Brundle where he threw his arm around Bernie Ecclestone was cringe-making.

He is a liability, an embarrassment and should not be given screen time.

Best regards,

Paul Harper