I received a call from Five Live late last night telling me that my interview at 7.40 this morning had been cancelled because of "three breaking news stories". It slipped out however that Five Live Breakfast was still going to interview Professor Terence Stephenson, the new head of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, whose blog on the BBC website calls for a ban on smoking in cars when children are present.
I was furious (but not surprised) and immediately sent the producers this email:
This is the BBC at its very worst. As a licence payer I object strongly to my money being used to promote one-sided propaganda about smoking. Not only does the BBC give the professor his own blog on the BBC website to promote a ban on smoking in cars when children are present, Five Live is giving him a further opportunity to promote his anti-smoking agenda AND you have cancelled an interview with someone who would have offered a different point of view. I am not impressed. Please note that we shall be monitoring the programme to see how this issue is handled.
I am still catching up with today's coverage but I understand that Prof Stephenson was also on Radio 4. I finally caught up with him when we were both interviewed on Radio 2's Jeremy Vine Show (presented this week by Matthew Bannister).
Stephenson said that both his parents smoked and it wasn't very nice sitting in the back of the car while they puffed away (or words to that effect). To his credit Bannister immediately asked Stephenson if he had suffered any ill effects. The answer, you won't be surprised to know, was negative. In Stephenson's words, he was "lucky".
It reminds me of Professor Doll telling Sue Lawley on Desert Island Discs that he didn't mind people smoking in his presence because the effect on him was so small. Despite this, the likes of Doll and Stephenson always end up supporting one ban or another.
They can't help themselves.