Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Thought For The Day

The excellent Gavin Orland campaign to bombard the BBC this week with complaints about Thought For The Day is going well. About 1,500 are pledged to do it.
Mine, sent in good time to get the Today staff sniggering through Monday's 'thought', read as follows:

'Dear Sir or Madam,

I wish to complain (in the most amicable way that I can) about the segment of your programme laughingly called 'Thought For The Day'.
My primary objection is a simple one: there is very rarely evidence of thought. I am painfully aware that many clergy go weeks, months...sometimes an entire career.... without an orginal thought, but I would argue licence payers are being defrauded by contributors who make no effort to do so.
My greater objection is that the spot is limited to religious speakers. For the reason mentioned above I do think this lays you open to a charge of deception. You could always deal with this by changing the title to 'Superstitious Rant For The Day' , 'Misguided Misogynistic Whinge For The Day' or something else on those lines, but there is a simpler solution. Here in the Isle of Man we adopted it some time ago with great success, so I pass it on for your consideration.
The local radio station, Manx Radio, has featured non-religious contributors alongside religious ones in their 'Thought For The Day' spot for some time. For example, I speak along with other Amnesty International members during the week around Human Rights Day every year.
This has brought several local benefits. Firstly, as the station depends upon a mixture of government grants and advertising, the number of listeners and therefore advertising revenue increases. Similarly the number of commuters who catch traffic warnings and therefore do not skid on black ice, or pensioners not injured in bizarre domestic accidents while hurling themselves across kitchens to turn off the ramblings of demented local lay preachers.
I feel sure this pattern would be repeated on a much larger scale across the British Isles if you could only see reason. For the sake of pensioners, motorists, and indeed a wide section of your audience who are inconvenienced by the need to hurriedly block out two minutes of nonsense which blights your otherwise excellent programme I beg you to consider this idea.
If you really cannot face up to empty threats of damnation and do the right thing, could you at least give a clear public health warning five minutes before the offending item. This should give plenty of time for listeners to adjust their radios in good time, and considerably ease the pressure on emergency services dealing with the current crop of freak, radio-related accidents during peak commuter travel hours,


Stuart Hartill
Isle of Man'

By the way, the reference to pensioners suffering freak injuries while trying to turn ranting biblebashers off is based on fact.
My good friend Denys Drower has broken countless radio sets and numerous items of kitchen furniture in his efforts to avoid such crap in either the Manx or UK version. At 90 it's high time he and his wife were able to breakfast in a civilised manner.
But our Denys is still fighting the good fight. Two years back I helped him get up a petition to the Beeb asking for an opt-out to the Sunday Service - something on the lines of those given for cricket matches. As an ex-Auntie reporter himself Denys knew this is technically possible for mere pence. He's also penning anti-clerical poems galore, and even features in January's Freethinker.
What a hero!
Us young 'uns owe it to old campaigners like him to get our e-mails off to the Beeb now (today@bbc.co.uk, and cc to todaycomplaints@bbc.co.uk, also try http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/ to make your complaint official).
Write now and help get wank off the wireless.

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