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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Wednesday 24th September 2014

The journalist who was named as the ‘presenter’ in a programme called ‘The Truth About Skunk’ that has twiced been pulled from BBC Three’s schedules has disowned it saying ‘Skunk is IMO safe and non addictive’.

Back in January, I wrote about a television programme called ‘The Truth About Skunk’ that had not been shown the previous evening in spite of being in my listings magazine. Earlier this week, I noticed it appearing in the listings for Monday 22nd September with a note ‘(postponed from 6th January)’.

As I noted in the earlier piece, just from the promotional information on the BBC website it was clear that a better title would be ‘Lies About Skunk’ because much of what was written was demonstrably untrue.

Now, following its withdrawal for a second time, I contacted Jake Hanrahan to see what he had to say and his reply, via Twitter, confirms that my preferred title was nearer the truth.

The reappearance of the programme in the listings was interesting, to me, because I hadn’t seen any onscreen trail for it and the listings magazine hadn’t made a feature of it. Nor were there any other media previews available. That suggested that this was one of those programmes.

The intense cost pressure on the BBC plus the close scrutiny from its enemies in the press mean that paying for a programme but not showing it is an own goal that can be turned into a frenzy of criticism. When a finished programme is not of the required standard, the tendency is to let it slip out with as little fanfare as possible. Though this wasn’t buried in the early hours of the morning as happens with some of these problem programmes, I was pretty sure the BBC was hoping that no-one would notice this.

Early on Monday evening, I checked the EPG only to find that a different programme was listed for that slot. I watched the continuity announcement at 9pm and it just said ‘in a change to the schedule’ with no explanation of why. The BBC website still carried the programme details but now said it would air at 3am on Thursday. This morning a check of the EPG shows that this airing has also been shelved. The BBC website is a bit slow to catch up because, at the time of writing, it shows a sixty minute programme starting at 0250 followed just ten minutes later by ‘The Truth About Skunk’.

I wondered what the programme makers had to say about it and found that the answer was – nothing. As this WaybackMachine image shows in November 2013 the production company was talking about its new commission under the title ‘Does Skunk Make You Crazy?’* But the current site does not show the programme under ‘Productions’.

It would seem that the production company is happy to pretend it never happened and Jake Hanrahan having said that he never was happy with the editorial direction the programme was to take must be pleased that someone at the BBC has put editorial policy above the possibility of being accused of wasting money.

I wonder if this is a turning point and that the BBC will stop making programmes about psychoactive substances that are based on the mantra ‘Drugs are bad, m'kay.’

*It seems the original working title was a better choice given that it is an accepted principle that any title asking a question is always answered ‘No’. ‘Is Britain being overrun by giant spiders?’, ‘Did the Duke of Edinburgh Order Diana’s Death?’, that sort of thing.


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