Over Christmas, you may have heard about some bloke called Tom Binns.
He was freelancing at BRMB on Christmas Day, starting his show at 3pm. The first few minutes of his show managed to make headline news around the world, after he cut off the Queen for being ‘bor-ing’.
Radio Today caught up with Tom to discuss the whole affair… Click [link=http://twaud.io/0Rx]HERE[/link] if you want to hear the offending audio:
[b]Now everything’s calmed down with what we’re calling ‘Queengate’ and you’ve had a bit of time to reflect, what happened in your eyes?[/b]
I’ve been very open and honest about what happened from the start. So my account of events is the same now as it was when I was interviewed by Chortle and the BBC. What I did NOT know for sure when I gave those interviews is that I started my show on time at two minutes past 3. I started listening to the speech about then and I must have caught about six seconds of her talking about youth in the commonwealth before I faded her down.
Rather than blame Orion Media management for their mistake (either communication or wiring) I took responsibility on air and covered it with a joke. I made it appear I was being “edgy”. In reality I faded out of the speech because I didn’t know how long it was going to go on for and it could have crashed into an ad break. I reasoned that because it wasn’t scheduled, nobody would be tuning in for it (only 12% did this year). I made the best decision with the information I had available and only had a few seconds to make it.
However, one BRMB listener called David Humphries – who didn’t care enough about her Majestry to be actually watching her on TV or listening to her on BBC Radio 4 – didn’t like my sense of humour and sent a text in, wishing me dead via roadside bomb in Afghanistan. I’ve got a zero tolerance policy regarding aggressive and abusive audience members or listeners, so I called to make sure he wasn’t joking. When he repeated his wishes and threats over the phone I asked him about his comments in a language he’d understand, off-air via my mobile phone.
He then contacted the station and local press, leaving out all the relevant bits of the story. David Lloyd never even bothered to hear my version of events before making the decision to fire me. David Humphries has since apologised in local press for his sick and abusive graphic death wishes on Christmas day.
[b]The rumour about it being a publicity stunt came about after you gave interviews. Is there any truth in that? [/b]
No, in fact I only gave the interview in the first place because Humphries (and later BRMB/Orion) were trying to make out I was joking about dead soldiers. Humphries made the link by mistake, but BRMB knew it wasn't intentional and yet made no effort to put him right. In fact, they made that link themselves in a statement they put out on their website, which is unfair because they knew I hadn’t heard the part of the Queens Message where she spoke about the conflict.
By the time my show started she’d been talking about something else for over a minute and no-one else made much of that link until it appeared on the Orion Website.
[b]Looking back, would you have done anything differently?[/b]
I probably would have got a hair cut for all the TV interviews I ended up doing.
[b]What impact do you think the fall-out has had on your own reputation and that of BRMB?[/b]
It’s been great for me, my jokes went around the world and I got some amazing emails of support from the public, other comics, PD's and presenters. I’ve been invited to Ireland to be a keynote speaker at a conference on censorship and TV and Radio people have been in touch about work. Some of it related to this matter, others were just reminded I exist. It's also made pre-publicity for my Australian tour a lot easier!
As for my reputation, it might astonish some people that in twenty years, I’ve never had a complaint upheld by Ofcom/Radio Authority, that wasn’t for something the radio station management had approved before broadcast.
I can’t speak for how it’s affected BRMB; but over 71% of listeners in a local newspaper poll said they thought BRMB were wrong to sack me. I know they received more complaints about my sacking than they did about the jokes, which I can’t imagine being good at a time when they are trying to re-launch an entertainment station. They’ve lined up some great talent and I’m sure nothing can go wrong for them – as long as they ONLY restrict their new signings to segue-ways.
[b]We heard that you made CNN Headline News in the states. Heard about any other bizarre outlets you made it onto?[/b]
Yes, I also made it to ABC, I did interviews for Middle East TV, it was in the South China Morning Paper, New York Post and I’ve read about the story in Japanese, Russian, Chinese and Arabic. The sad thing about this story going global is that if you read the comments from around the world, a lot of people feel let down that the UK has lost its sense of humour.
[b]Has this particular radio episode of your life made you reluctant to get behind the mic again?[/b]
No the abysmal pay and total lack of support for creativity did a while back! Comedy was my first love and when I started, you could do comedy on commercial radio. Now commercial radio is dead behind the eyes. If the magazine industry had a body like Ofcom dishing out 100k fines every time a writer made a mistake do you think we’d still have Private Eye?
[b]A gig at Orion looks like it’s out of the question, what’s next for you in the next 12 months?[/b]
I’m off to Oz on a two month tour, then I’m doing my last Ivan Brackenbury show in Edinburgh this August, before concentrating on my new character: Ian D Montfort.