The disciplining of Sky Sports’ Andy Gray and Richard Keys following comments they made about a female football official is a timely lesson on the perils of wearing a ‘radio mic’.
But they’re not the first – and they surely won’t be the last – to be caught out making unfortunate remarks which they thought were private.
Gordon Brown: during last year’s election, he was overheard describing the lifelong voter Gillian Duffy as a bigot, after meeting her during a walkabout
Carol Thatcher: she described a black tennis player as a ‘golliwog’ in the green room of the One Show and was sacked by the BBC
The Prince of Wales: during a photocall in Klosters, he was overheard describing the BBC’s royal reporter Nicholas Witchell as: “Bloody people. I can’t bear that man. I mean, he is so awful. He really is.”
John Major: he was picked up ranting to ITN’s Michael Brunson about the Eurosceptic “bastards” in his cabinet.
The problem is that while these remarks give us all a bit of diversion and provide the commentators with plenty of copy (I’m pleading guilty to that one), they can have devastating consequences for those who’ve uttered them. Just ask Gordon Brown.
So here’s the moral of the story. If you’re anywhere near a television camera or a microphone, never ever make any comments you wouldn’t be happy to have broadcast.
(And another quick tip, if you’re wearing a radio mic, never ever go to the toilet without making sure it is switched off)
PS: Watch out for a slightly longer list of ‘what not to do’ on television, next week.