First Watergate. Now W****rgate!

Peterborough column discovers "frail matriarchs" at the Bedford Park Festival following TV presenter's expletive


Over £25,000 raised for charity, a host of cultural events and a good time had by all but for the national press it is the utterance of one expletive that is the only thing worthy of comment about the 2003 Bedford Park Festival. The Peterborough column in the Daily Mail this Thursday finally got to hear of the slightly off-colour outburst made at the event by the BBC's John Humphrys.

Living up to his billing as "the rudest man in Britain", he concluded a tale about an interview between himself and Tony Blair by telling the crowd gathered to hear him open the Festival how the P.M's press secretary Alastair Campbell had uttered the word "W*****!" when the interview finished. Mr Humphrys remained unclear whether it was him or the PM whom Mr. Campbell was suggesting had a rather unhealthy specialist subject.

The Roger Melly style speech brought on looks of amazement from the two hundred or so spectators but Peterborough's description of Bedford Park's "frailer matriarchs reaching for the smelling salts" suggests a bit of journalistic license.

Generally speaking Bedford Park matriarchs are far from frail and the word used is one you are likely to hear them shouting at rat-runners on Abinger Road. The audience's main cause for complaint about the broadcaster's anecdote was not the language but the fact that most of them had heard it before. As a significant number of the crowd also worked at the BBC they were aware that the story was a staple of the Today presenter's after dinner routine.

Relations between the BBC and the Prime Minister's Office are at a low over the row concerning the use of intelligence information in the case for war on Iraq. Mr Humphrys has been outspoken in his support for the BBC's position on its coverage of the issue. Some members of the Government were unhappy to learn that he had received briefings from the head of MI6 during the war.

The Festival which is organised every year by St. Michael and All Angels Church was a massive success this year with some regulars saying it was the best ever. The organisers are rumoured to be planning to invite Greg Rusedski to open next year's Festival.

July 11, 2003