The BBC: Will they or won’t they?

Posted: December 20, 2011 by tallbloke in flames, Philosophy, Politics

I was contacted a number of days ago by a reporter from the BBC, seeking an interview. I’ve fended them off until now. Having talked over the do’s and don’ts with Stephen Wilde of Wilde & Company and hopefully reset the proposed interview agenda through negotiation we decided it’s ok to go ahead.

It came out though that I have ‘previous’ as a BBC interviewee. Whether this will affect the Beeb’s decision on whether or not to let me loose on camera remains to be seen. At least I have a nice full set of upper teeth this time – I was waiting to get the upper fronts that were smashed in the crash fixed at that time.

It’s a long story.

Back in 2006, while I was still flat on my broken back in a kevlar overcoat on my sofa, Richard ‘The Hamster’ Hammond had a go at breaking the ‘flying mile’ land speed record, in a jet powered car.

Unfortunately, having broken the record on the return run at several hundred miles an hour, he broke the car rather spectacularly as well. A suspected front tyre blowout pushed the front end out of shape, and instead of hitting the panic parachute button, the brave little Hammond tried to steer the car straight. After a short flight and a lot of sky-ground-sky-ground-thump-ouch! the wreckage came to a standstill at the south end of the runway at York’s ‘Santa Pod’ Dragway, and the attending team and safety crew dialled the emergency services.

The YAAC pilots and paramedics and CEO Martin Eede. Pic copyright tallbloke.

Luckily for the Hamster, the Yorkshire Air Ambulance Charity grabbed the shout, and had the chopper (a jet engined McDonnell Douglas) in the air inside four minutes. I doubt Hammond would have survived the bumpy ride across the back country roads and slow crawl into rush hour Leeds to the Intensive Care unit at Leeds General Infirmary. The Air Ambulance flew the 26 mile journey in 12 minutes.

As the news broke I was on my favourite motoring website chat forum at and immediately there was talk of raising a collection to buy the Hamster a get well card and stuff for his bedside. I spoke up and said that as I was in the area, I’d take the card down to the hospital. One wellwisher from Germany asked if I would pick up £50 worth of flowers from interflora on my way. I said that the Intensive Care Unit won’t allow flowers in and anyway , Jeremy Clarkson and James May would take the piss out of Hammond mercilessly if we sent ‘girly flowers’, so why not donate the £50 to the air ambulance charity which saved his life.

An idea was born.

Two days later, I struggled down to Leeds centre with the help of my good friend Scott and carried a huge card and a sheaf of printouts with all the donations and good luck messages into the car park outside the hospital. It was bedlam, press wagons everywhere, and a security cordon at the doors. I ambled over to the ITN news mobile unit where someone had just been interviewed and said to the cameraman:

We’ve just raised £14,000 for the Hamster to give to the Air Ambulance, would you just film me flicking through these pages of donations and get the web address of the donations page on camera to use as a fill in the edited footage?”

“Sure” he replied and as we did it, the interviewer came over and asked what I was up to.

Ten minutes later, after I’d appeared live on ITN’s lunchtime news, the other TV crew interviewers were forming and orderly queue, and I was live on SkyNews, and did a spot for the BBC and an interview for Reuters too.

Then we walked into the hospital, me in my Kevlar overcoat holding my spine together, Scott holding my arm, my other arm had the big brown envelope with the card and donation papers inside tucked under it. The security guys forming a cordon across the main concourse must have thought the big brown envelope contained X-Rays or something, because as we walked slowly towards them, they unlinked arms and parted like the Red Sea.

We found the Hamster’s ward and a nurse came to the door to ask what we wanted. I thrust the envelope into her hands, and said:

“Please could you just give that to James May” – I could see him sitting by Hammond’s bedside. Before she got the chance to say no, we turned and ambled away, a quick backward glance confirming that she had passed the envelope to James. After I got home, I was worried the Hamster, or rather his BBC handlers, might not be amused that we were raising money in his name without permission. I turned on the TV to watch developments.

About six that evening, Richard’s wife Mindy came out of the hospital to read a prepared statement to the thronging reporters. The bit I remember was something like what I had written in the card.

Please don’t send any more flowers, if you’d like to do something for Richard, please donate to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance on his behalf.

If I could have, I’d have done a little dance round the Telly. 🙂

The appeal fund took off like a rocket – within days our £14,000 had become £180,000, and after some negotiation with the Air Ambulance Charity, we got a pile of ‘Heli-Ted’ Bears made with commemorative T-Shirts, flying goggles and jackets to help promote the appeal.

The total we raised was £246,000. Just enough for the Air Ambulance Charity to put down a 10% deposit on a much needed second helicopter for Englands largest county.

While we we’re clearing out the attic to get it decorated just before the cops crashed in on us last week, I found the last boxful of bears, and you can bid for one here if you like. All proceeds to the YAA.

Heli-Ted to the rescue - Pic copyright Tallbloke

  1. Otter says:

    Watch out for repeat questions which are worded differently. They’ll (media and science fraudsters) look for opportunities to claim that you contradicted yourself.

  2. Stephen Wilde says:

    Otter, paranoia can be counterproductive.

    The media and the public just love a genuine chap who does his best.

    One of the posters in all the stuff about Rog’s alleged criminality said it was like Greg Laden and Michael Mann accusing Mother Theresa of being a hooker.

  3. Otter says:

    No paranoia here, Steve. I will grant you the public! *g* We are the underdogs, after all.

    As to the Mother Teresa comment: from my own wanderings, I have seen that quite a few hate her for what she was- a Christian. But that’s another story…

    Good luck to both of you and all of us!

  4. dickymint says:

    Nice article Rog. Bought back some very happy memories. Good luck to you and yours, we’re all behind you.

  5. Adrian says:

    As I was interviewed by Norfolk poilce for making a legitimate FOI request my MP has kindly offered to ask the Norfolk police why I was interviewed. I have outlined the facts of your case. Good luck.

  6. Joe's World says:


    Good luck!

    Relax and enjoy yourself!
    Nothing worse than a nervous person who looks like they have something to hide.

  7. tallbloke says:

    Hey Dickymint!

    Thanks for the support. Give my Christmas best to all on the wedge forum and the rest of PH. Point them to the legal fund appeal page!

  8. Mack says:

    Best of luck at the BEEB,maybe James Delingpole will mark you card as to their style?

  9. RichardSCourtney says:


    If you can, try to ensure the interview is broadcast live.

    I had an unfortunate experience with the BBC truncating an interview and using what was broadcast to misrepresent my views then refusing me a chance to correct the matter. They claimed my views of AGW are a “conspircay theory” when I have always – for three decades – denied it is a conspiracy.


  10. Steeptown says:

    A bit of support from Jermy Clarkson won’t go amiss.

  11. Vuk says:

    Stephen Wilde
    Suggest to the BBC interviewer and his producer to read Roger’s post about ‘Hamster’ before the interview, it may counteract ‘presumed bias’ against your client. .

  12. John Silver says:

    This will not end well.

  13. Political Junkie says:

    Could you have someone tape the interview for you in “parallel” with the BBC folks?

  14. NeilM says:

    I know it’s just an interview, but it might be useful to have a look here at the comment by Mark on February 3, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    I have some expertise in PR and media relations and here is a primer on handling documentary producers…

  15. Konrad says:

    A long story, but a good one. Congratulations on such a fantastic result.

    As to the BBC interview, I think it is a good idea to go ahead. One recommendation I would have is that you be allowed to video the whole interview procedure and give a written undertaking that you will not release the video prior to the BBC airing their story or if they choose not to air, not prior to 30 days after the interview. Rather than vetting questions or the edited material, this simple procedure can encourage good behaviour without conflict or drama. It is just reminds the interviewer that the full context for anything put to air will be publicly available in the future. If you take the umbrella because it looks cloudy, it doesn’t rain 🙂

  16. Nice story tallbloke. It is a small world.

    If you are in a good mood for fun, and not to mindlessly infect you with cynicism, but…

    … you might enjoy this clip. Please watch it, even if you are somewhat put off, because I think there is a message in there for us climate skeptics, given the present (Laden) story:

    I see at the latest on, that Richard Hammond has a host of products on sale including presumably, the book that he wrote about his crash.

    Good that the county got a chopper out of it all.

    I saw the Laden offer to write something up. It sounds ok. Except don’t write stuff at his venue. Write perhaps at a mutually acceptable venue affording wider prominence. Otherwise there is always a possibility that he’ll write a reply post to your post, and that will be the end of that.

  17. tfn says:

    I’m sure your solicitor has it covered but I believe that Greg’s ISP or host site could be liable under the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 for any possible defamation which is not immediately removed once they become aware of it.

    Good luck with the Beeb.

  18. Zeke says:

    Wish me luck! (: Although you are sure to get much much more for the bear and the Air Ambulance fund.

  19. tallbloke says:

    Good luck Zeke.

    Well, it’s looking like it’s going to happen. I had a long and interesting chat on the phone with the BBC reporter this evening. Bigger update tomorrow. With tonights news regarding our Harvard Phd, the timing is good. 8)

  20. nick in Vancouver says:

    Tallbloke contact James Delingpole before speaking to the BBC. He has “previous” too and was played like a chump, I’m sure he will have good advice on where and how to tread. The BBC are masters at the cut and paste. They control the message and they will make sure that anything you say will be taken down and used as evidence against you.

    [Reply] I will be recording the interview too. 😉

  21. Ruth says:

    I’ve bought a bear (on ‘Buy it Now’)! I shall explain my computer problems to it…

    Wishing you a very happy and peaceful Christmas

    [Reply] Great! Thanks for supporting the YAAC – Rog

  22. One point on the interview content – be wary of being drawn too far on your personal pet theories. It is very hard to convey to a lay audience that you are pursuing one thread in the collection of possible interactions whilst still being open to (a) your pet theory being dis-provable, (b) the pet theory being a co-incidental correlation, (c) the risk of confirmation bias giving you an excuse to disregard key data.

    There were some radio 4 programs about science communication after CG1, and it’s clear that non-science students (literature, history, etc. ) have a very different association with investigation and theory and evidence.

    I wrote this at the time, and it’s a bit long, but I think I still agree with it.

  23. Stephen Richards says:

    Tallbloke, I don4t use ebqym it stinks qnd ;y keyboqrd is french< I zqny to buy the beqr< Hoz cqn I do it otherzise,

  24. I’d buy a bear … but eBay (subsidiary of PayPal) is unbearable. I avoid PP whenever possible. My contribution to the TTFF was only after a great personal, moral struggle. The imperative to buy a bear isn’t nearly that strong. I’ll find another way to support YAAC … they’re online so I’ll look at the options.

    Helicopter and other air rescue services provide crucial, rapid transport and provide immediate skills through a paramedic (or doctor) to stabilise the patient as soons as the helicopter arrives at the scene. Those are the life-saving minutes.

    Australia is so lucky to have the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

    Everybody who drives outside of Australian cities should seriously consider making a donation as part of preparing for an “outback adventure”.

    RFDS provides an excellent service covering distances and areas unimaginable to most Europeans. Sometimes what looks like an ordinary drive down the highway can become an unwanted adventure. Survival is difficult in the outback; even for people who are fit and well. Preparation is crucial. Those who go bush on a regular basis buy an EPIRB. There is no mobile phone coverage for about 95% of Australia, by area.

    I am not affiliated with RFDS in any way. Just happy to have them ready to serve when needed.

    Modern transport and communications help to save many lives every day. Too much is taken for granted. Especially the initiative, sweat and perseverence.

    “Somebody should do something about that” 😦

  25. Dermot O'Logical says:


    Then you’ve bought a ‘bug bear’ ?…

    [Reply] Funny, paranoid, but funny.