To the BBC
I am writing, not to complain, but to show my support for the radio programme “Fighting Talk” and for all those involved in the making of the show. This show of support is in reference to the criticism the programme received by various media outlets about the episode on the evening of Saturday 1st June 2013 during BBC 5 Live’s Big Day Out.
On the show, Fighting Talk panellist Bob Mills was asked in the final round ‘Defending the Indefensible’ to defend the statement, “Give me 20 minutes with her and I’m pretty sure I could turn round Claire Balding.” What Bob Mills said was, “She’s a horse women. The one thing Claire appreciates is a bit of power between her thighs. All I’m saying, there is not a woman in the world who cannot be cured.”
To the uninformed person who listened to those remarks or who heard those remarks out of context, of course those words would cause offense. Homosexuality is not a disease that can be cured but a sexual orientation that civilized people respect. Yet the statement Bob Mills made is not representative of the man himself, Fighting Talk or BBC 5 Live in general. The statement cannot be analyzed on its own. Analyzing the comment without any context is akin to believing what an actor or actress says in a film or what a musician sings in song is reflective of what he or she believes in real life.
If anybody who heard the whole programme, they would have listened to the host Colin Murray describe the final round ‘Defending the Indefensible’:
“No matter what I say, you have to defend it for twenty seconds. For people in this arena, a little bit like when we did the booing (in reference to an earlier round), when we really didn’t mean what we were saying. This is like that round. We don’t mean what we are saying. The whole point is you have to defend the indefensible. I’m going to get it tattooed across my forehead because every week someone complains.”
Colin Murray has repeated the description about ‘Defending the Indefensible’ on every episode. People, whether they are listening for the first time or have been following the programme for several years, have been prepared these statements are not representative of the host, the production team or the Fighting Talk panellists. That is why the round is called ‘Defending the Indefensible’.
Fighting Talk has been broadcasting for nearly ten years, to an audience I am estimating to be a few hundred thousands, not just in the United Kingdom but all over the world and here in Hong Kong where I have been listening for the past five years. The show have had guests, ranging from prominent comedians such as John Bishop to established sportspeople such as Peter Reid who was a panellist on the episode that has received wide coverage. The programme has received two gold Sony Radio Academy Award in the sports programme category. There have been “Defending the Indefensible” statements in the past that have been in poor taste, racists, sexist and fascist which have not received any complaints or not received any coverage. The recent events have only come to light when the show has received a wider audience on a more prominent stage. It is of my own opinion that the programme primarily received criticism for this reason and not because of the actual statement.
From my own personal experience, the production team of Simon Crosse, Mike Holt, Charlie Copsey and Nadia Haif have been an exemplary group of people who are dedicated to their craft and appreciative of the listeners of the show. Thanks to successfully winning a ‘Children in Need’ auction, I was allowed a behind-the-scenes tour of an episode of Fighting Talk. The production team warmly received me as one of their own, going beyond the call of duty to accommodate me.
One statement that was put out of context and for the handful of listeners who complained is not representative of the thousands of people who support the show. I hope this comes into consideration.
Dr. Kenneth Leung
Dedicated Fighting Talk listener