back to article ALIEN DETECTION was SUPPRESSED by the BBC - top boffin

The BBC tried to put the kibosh on rock-star physicist Brian Cox's plan to eavesdrop on a planet with a radio telescope - because the corporation was apparently afraid the discovery of alien life could violate the Beeb's editorial guidelines. Perhaps Auntie feared the little green men, if found, would drop a very large swear …


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  1. Red Eyes

    I can believe it too

    Just about says everything that is wrong with the BBC and country in general.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I can believe it too

      I'm sure you CAN believe it. You can believe whatever you chose to. You'd be a fool for actually doing so, though:

      Now go back to your Daily Mail.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I can believe it too

        You can't be surprised as the The Register, seemingly being part of the Daily Mail group, as had an irrational hatred for the BBC for quite some time now.

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: I can believe it too

        We read:

        ....However, this evening, Cox tweeted: "As @daraobriain pointed out, we did the "health and safety" aliens story live on air last year as a joke. Not really news!"

        Tossers. They only got themselves to blame. OPEN THE AIRLOCK!

    2. Yesnomaybe

      Re: I can believe it too

      Stop slagging the BBC off. I am really confused about the attitude to the BBC by the people in the UK. If you come from another country, like I do, you know that the BBC is one of the best national broadcasters in the world, and doing their best to be as impartial and even-handed as possible. And when you are trying to be impartial, I guess it is natural for extremists of any colour to be upset by a broadcaster that doesn't take their side. But that the population as a group to be so down on the BBC is a mystery. You have been brainwashed into believing the BBC is crap by Rupert Murdoch and the Daily Mail.

      Shame on you.

      1. Dr. Mouse

        Re: I can believe it too

        "Stop slagging the BBC off. I am really confused about the attitude to the BBC by the people in the UK."

        The BBC is a fantastic institution. IMHO something to be proud of, as a Brit, like the NHS.

        However, like the NHS, when you are used to it, it fades into the background. You forget how special it is, and focus on the small problems with it. For example, I am still upset with them for spending shed loads on moving to a new building while dropping Formula 1. Also, with the NHS, people complain about waiting times etc. while forgetting all the good things it does for us. It is natural.

        Let's take, for instance, cars. You buy a brand new car to replace your ageing rust bucket. For the first few months you love it. It's the best thing in the world, reliable and comfortable. You are proud to be seen with it.

        After a few months, however, you have become used to it. You start noticing small faults: The seats don't support your back quite right, the wipers are too loud, the radio sounds a bit tinny. You then start focussing on these small things, which you complain about, forgetting how damn good the car is.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I can believe it too

          Well said, Dr. Mouse. Were this an actual pub, you'd be confronted with the offer of a pint.

        2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: I can believe it too

          "The BBC is a fantastic institution. IMHO something to be proud of, as a Brit, like the NHS."

          Oh my god. Fainter praise can only come via radiowaves from outer space.

      2. Fibbles

        Re: I can believe it too

        The BBC is just as biased as any other broadcasting organisation and you're a fool for believing otherwise.

        See any article on climate change or Apple for examples of their 'impartiality'.

  2. AndrueC Silver badge

    There's only one thing you can say to that:

    'For fuck's sake!'

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Who at the BBC?, name names, shame the idiot who made the decision

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Who?

      You want names? Well here's one: Mr Blobby.

      What, you think he went away with Noel Edmonds? Well you're wrong: he moved into management and is next in line to succeed George Entwistle. God help us.

      (I actually like the BBC, but this was fucking silly.)

  4. Stumpy

    And we pay our license fee because?

    Fucking hell BBC ... get a grip!

    1. SimonX

      Re: And we pay our license fee because?

      Stumpy - don't let the facts get in the way of a good rant. Or you could get a grip yourself.

  5. FrankAlphaXII

    Its turned into

    The British Politically Correct Broadcasting Corporation.

    You can tell from the news anymore really. Its sad, they used to be quite good up until recently.

    We only got their news on the BBC America subsidiary in 2001 and Ive been watching it ever since, but the quality has declined as the bias toward talking about every form of discrimination against minorities (even very obscure ones like Iraqi emo kids or Uzbekistani goths for instance) and also coverage of any kind of intolerance against their obvious favorite minority, the homosexuals, has increased exponentially.

    Its still better than the fluff like CNN, MSNBC, and such, but honestly I think PBS' Newshour has better editorial quality and depth of coverage anymore. Which sucks, Id rather stick with what I know, and what I know is BBC. But its getting ridiculous.

    1. SimonX

      Re: Its turned into

      FrankAlphaXII - could I suggest the Daily Mail Online - it seems like your natural home (they hate Uzbekistani goths)

  6. Ralph B

    Only Himself To Blame

    It doesn't say much for Cox's powers to explain science that he couldn't persuade the Beeb's bosses of his idea. Maybe just saying "it's incredible" over and over again is not working.

    Seriously though, any alien signal from the planet is going to be massively swamped by the nearby star, unless we're suggesting the star emissions themselves have been modulated to carry the alien's signalling, and how the feck is that supposed to be done?

    He's a nice enough bloke, but when it comes to presenting popular science, he's no Carl Sagan, James Burke, or even Raymond Baxter. (The bunch off Bang Goes the Theory are pretty good though.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Only Himself To Blame

      As if communicating with sentient beings from another planet wasn't unlikely enough, you're suggesting he be able to communicate with /management/ ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Only Himself To Blame

      And not able to explain they don't speak English?

      1. Stuart 22

        Re: Only Himself To Blame

        You are obviously too young to have watched Star Trek. Not only English, but American English .... but then I always suspected Men in Black was an admission that Republicans were all from another planet.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Is It April the 1st???

    Nuff said...

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Is It April the 1st???

      Actually yeah, my thoughts turned to Orson Welles doing HG Wells... there has been a health and safety aspect to presenting aliens to an unprepared populace! (people were injured in the panic caused by what sounded like a newscast)

  8. Bunker_Monkey


    That is all!

  9. DapaBlue

    He seems to be downplaying the news here :-

    Brian Cox: 'BBC did not ban search for aliens on Stargazing Live'

    It sounds to me like the usual, you can't make any jokey comment if there's potential to put the BBC in a bad light. 'Health and Safety gawn mad!' and BBC bashing in one story... quelle surprise.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      '... broadcaster's fixation with "regulations and health and safety".'

      Healthier than a fixation with Werther's Originals and Vaseline I suppose.

      1. Ted Treen

        Healthier how?

        I LIKE Werther's Originals...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They did still do it

    As Dara O Briain, his co-presenter stated on Twitter later, "Actually not banned," said O Briain. "We still did it live on-air and heard nothing, sadly."

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: They did still do it

      Yeah, but I bet they made you put a four second delay on the transmission in case some alien called Matt Bianco a bunch of 1cars!

  11. Anonymous Custard

    Just pray that there's intelligent life up there for him to find...

    ...cos there's certainly bugger all down there at the BBC.

    (With apologies to Eric Idle, although it is another opportunity for the two of them to do the Galaxy Song together and this time not change the best bit by leaving the punchline in).

  12. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Yeah, but what if Hitler appears live, opening the Olympics?

    What the hell is "Threapleton Holmes B"? Where does that name come from?

    1. Blofeld's Cat

      Re: What the hell is "Threapleton Holmes B"? Where does that name come from?

      He was Sherlock's other, less well known, brother.

      He is only remembered now for his attempts to popularise putting a person's middle initial after their surname.


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yeah, but what if Hitler appears live, opening the Olympics?

      It's one of the non-league divisions. I think Exeter plays in it.

    3. Peter Storm

      Re: Yeah, but what if Hitler appears live, opening the Olympics?

      He already 1936.

  13. Ged T

    BBC's 'Health and Safety' is just a smokescreen

    In defence (able?) of the BBC, their real concerns are any/all of:

    - The cost of billing those aliens for the licence fee (should Prof Cox send a reply, especially...)

    - The world's entire population might litigate against thet BBC for any of "...being a party to the Cultural Shock incurred...", "...diminishing my personal place in the Universe...", "...for mandating yet another set-top box that UK citizens will require to recieve BBC re-broadcasts of said ET messages..."

    - Concern about the copyright position the aliens may take, should the BBC record and/or re-broadcast such a signal

    - The intergalactic etiquette of the BBC doing their annoying 'voice-over' / copy spoilers - Just when did the ET broadcaster finish broadcasting? Was that part 1 of a 13 part set? But only one of six in the galactic autumn season?

    - Will they have to re-brand / "re-imagine" BBC Wordwide to, perhaps, BBC Universe? If so, what does that do to the copyrights owned by the old brand? What media formats will be acceptable to the ET marketplace?

    Infrared Ray, Ultraviolet Ray? Copyrighted encoding formats - MPEG NTSC, MPEG PAL, MPEG ET, MPEG 4 ET - Just thinking about this could be a major H & S health hazard to the person(s) that have to propose and negotiate rights with the ETs...

    - There could be cause for Major Concern about BBC output the ETs have received and that they have found objectional - "Welcome to this special edition of Univerersal PoV..."

    Mine's the one with the weird radio "Universal Transceiver" gizmo in the secret pocket...

    1. tony2heads

      Re: BBC's 'Health and Safety' is just a smokescreen

      They dont wan to be found, so they have exercised mind control of BBC bosses.

  14. frank ly


    They can't handle change, or anything new.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Beaurocracies:

      Spell checkers:

      They're built into browsers these days.

      (BTW, Daily Mail boy, if you think this is true, you have more than literacy issues <3)

      1. cortland

        Re: Beaurocracies:

        -- Spell checkers ==

        C H E C K E R S

    2. Dr Scrum Master

      Re: Beaurocracies:

      but at least they're rather attractive

  15. SuperTim

    I think they were worried...

    That they would just hear a faint echo that sounded like "How's about that then...How's about that then....Jangle Jangle Jewellery Jewellery" and they panicked.

  16. Blofeld's Cat

    Uh ho...

    >fsst< "Greetings Earth creatures. This is Zarg from the planet you call Threapleton Holmes B".

    >click< "We have observed your puny attempts to intercept our broadcast signals and rebroadcast them on your own BBC network."

    >squark< "Unfortunately you have failed to purchase a licence to do this, and our saucers containing crack teams of IP lawyers are entering your atmosphere even as you hear my words. Resistance is futile."

    >crackle< "I warn you, we know about, and have already neutralised, your small dog defence system." >pop<

  17. xyz Silver badge

    Brian Cox v there's a toughy...

    The elf'n'safety bollox was probably the BBC trying to save the aliens from first contact with the Cox-ter. 5 mins listening to that nutter would probably have the aliens raising an armada to seek and destroy the infestation.

    Mind you, I don't really care in the matter of Cox v BBC. As a Scotsman, it would be like watching England v England. You don't care who wins but you hope for a lot of injuries.

    1. Peter Storm

      "England v England. You don't care who wins"

      At least, being England and not Scotland, we'd win something.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "England v England. You don't care who wins"

        By hook or by crook, that's the jolly English way!

  18. HP Cynic

    I just hope this is a joke, misheard, taken out of context and them misconstrued otherwise I'd have to give up my last vestiges of respect for the BBC.

    1. Psyx

      It was. And 12+ hours after Dara had rubbished it on Twitter, El Reg still decided to run with the tall tale.

  19. Pete the not so great

    Perhaps they were

    writing in to points of view.

  20. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Random acts of management

    This decision (even thought there's bound to be more in it than we've been told) is bizarre, but well in keeping with lots of other BBC decisions - and compares well with some of the decisions they make regarding programme commissioning, cancellations, scheduling and content.

    The BBC is simply too big to manage effectively. That's why it seems to have evolved lots of little (or big) fiefdoms that seem to act independently of their charter, the DG's wishes or public opinion. While they pride themselves in being "independent" of government, they are also independent of the country as a whole and only distantly related to common sense. That is the only reason I can think of for why they have developed such a knack for pinning KICK ME signs on their own arses. For which they duly and frequently get the result due to them.

  21. Robert Ramsay

    Brian Cox not allowed to listen to aliens?

    They might say "nobber"

  22. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. NomNomNom

    For once I have to agree with the BBC. I presume the intent was to do this stunt live. Well pointing a microphone at some random planet outside of BBC editorial control might sound like an "exciting" idea, but if it's done before the 9pm watershed with children listening in that is a recipe for disaster. Looks like the BBC have learned an important lesson from the Jimmy Savile affair.

    1. SkippyBing

      Looks like the BBC have learned an important lesson from the Jimmy Savile affair.

      What, before it happened? That's quite an impressive lesson...

  24. P.Nutt

    Muppet BBC Management.

    Yet another example of sheer stupidity. When can we stop being taxed to pay for these simpletons?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Muppet BBC Management.

      Ah, given that you appear to be angry about about somewhat so blatantly fictitious that it would only fool Sun readers, I shall let you reflect further on who, precisely, is the simpleton in this scene.

    2. Psyx

      Re: Muppet BBC Management.

      "When can we stop being taxed to pay for these simpletons?"

      I don't know. When are you going to stop being so gullible?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The story was published before in The Sun.

    (Great sources ElReg!)

    They wrongly reported a prank by Cox and O'Brian as if it were a genuine story.

    Typical Murdoch, but I'm surprised it wasn't The Mail.

  26. fawlty
    Black Helicopters


    Maybe the Beeb had recently had a D-Notice in the post on the subject of aforementioned planet. Its probably where they've got Dick Cheney and Osama BL holed up (or maybe thats Texas ;-).

    The lady doth protest too much?

    << Black Helicopters because... aaarrgh they're on the roof....

  27. fawlty

    And another thing...

    Since when was Brian Cox a 'Top Boffin'?

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: And another thing...

      Since, I believe, he got a PhD in High Energy Particle Physics, and the following ( Extract from Wikipaedophile)

      " particle physicist, a Royal Society University Research Fellow, PPARC Advanced Fellow and Professor at the University of Manchester. He is a member of the High Energy Physics group at the University of Manchester, and works on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland. He is working on the R&D project of the FP420 experiment in an international collaboration to upgrade the ATLAS and the CMS experiment by installing additional, smaller detectors at a distance of 420 metres from the interaction points of the main experiments.[12]"

      That, in my book, makes him a top flight boffin.

      1. fawlty

        Re: And another thing...

        Fair point.

        He most definitely outranks me in the boffinry stakes by some distance. And I can't play keyboard either...

        1. Mike Brown

          Re: And another thing...

          He may be a boffin, but i cant stand his smug gurning face. I'd like to boffin his nose.

  28. Badvok

    On the flip side, I wonder how much of a bashing the BBC would have got if during the live broadcast they had picked up a pirate radio station that blurted out lots of non-PC language.

    Seems like the BBC can't do anything these days without loads of idiots finding something wrong with it.

  29. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Bureaucracy = Cult of Cowardice

    'nuf said

    Should get a T-shirt printed

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    By the way mentally subnormal DailyMailtards, anyone qualifying as intelligent life would have noticed that this isn't even slightly true. Still, keep foaming at the mouth, eh?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hang On

    Just think for a minute, about what would *actually* happen if live on air, extra-terrestrial intelligence was discovered. I'm not necessarily saying "Welles' War of the Worlds", but still ...

    At the very least you'd want a Helpline set up in advance. "If you have been affected by any of the issues in this programme, call 0800 ..."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hang On

      Also, where do you think Michael Gove came from? We don't want a repeat of that..

    2. David Pollard

      Re: Hang On

      The War of the Worlds radio broadcast certainly created a few casualties.

      On similar lines, when I was in my teens there was a SciFi on the telly which also started with a fictitious news broadcast. Even though this had been widely announced beforehand, quite a few people believed it was real. The next day I remember seeing a middle-aged woman who had been totally freaked out by it, explaining to anyone and everyone on the street that the aliens were coming.

      There are enough people already who think they see UFOs and Angels and so forth without reinforcing their beliefs and adding to their unfortunate numbers.

  32. brain_flakes


    Are you trying to suggest it would be a good use of radio telescope time to do this? Sounds more like the Beeb were fobbing him off with excuses because it would be a bloody waste of license fee payers money, but didn't want to hurt his feelings too much.

  33. Alperian

    If you asked these BBC people why they don't buy a lottery ticket, they would probably say that the odds are "too astronomical" (although they probably make £240,000 pa anyhow).

    Ask them if they would consider a program looking for aliens (Alien Watch Live!?) and they would cite H&S reasons.

    Is anyone with that magnitude of judgement impairment employable?

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Professor Coxy on Sean Keaveny BBC6 Music - around 15mins in....

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Oh Cox

    Reminds me of a column in the Viz comic a year or two ago entitled something like 'Cox not c*cks".

    Prof Cox was (supposedly) answering questions on the universe, except that the questions would meander on to comparisons using his namesake in anatomy...

    The Professor himself towards the end meandered onto his previous life in a pop band before new Labour ruined it for him....

  36. Benchops

    They were right

    Think of the mass panic it would cause? In the US the government righty hid the existence of the Stargate for years before they allowed the release of 10 series of documentaries about it.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I note that comments on <i>this</i> BBC conspiracy are not disabled for legal reasons.

    What's Orlowski not telling us?

    1. David Pollard

      Re: I note that comments on <i>this</i> BBC conspiracy are not disabled for legal reasons.

      "What's Orlowski not telling us?"

      Not a lot

  38. Daniel Johnson

    The real season the BBC didn't want Professor Brain Cox pointing his big antenna at that planet is because it's clearly the home world of Jimmy Saville.

    All those people who thought David Icke was mental when he banged on about shape-shifting aliens in high places are looking very silly now. Very silly indeed.

  39. thecresta

    It's all fun and games...

    ...until someone loses an eye.

  40. Grom_uk

    And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,

    'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Last Sunday afternoon there was a live BBC broadcast from a distant world

    in which viewers at home were treated to both a "shit" and a "fuck", without so much as a hint of calls for nuking the corporation to the ground.

    That distant world: Abu Dhabi.

    1. cortland

      Re: Last Sunday afternoon there was a live BBC broadcast from a distant world

      Careful! You'll upset the Abu Dhabi Bobby Lobby.

  42. Efros

    Objection M'lud

    Cox described as top boffin is obviously erroneous.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I suppose it could give people heart attacks

    Especially the type who has watched too much sci-fi and will immediately leap from "they're out there" to the conclusion "and they're going to attack us by Christmas" (thus fulfilling the Mayan prophecy of doom)

  44. cortland

    Idiocy a Crown monopoly?

    It's not as if the UK have a monopoly on idiocy (we in the Colonies just had what we like to call an election), but imports must pass HM Customs. Right?

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