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Into gear

Peter Horrocks Peter Horrocks | 16:30 UK time, Tuesday, 24 October 2006

There has been quite a bit of debate in the BBC newsroom about why the first interview with Top Gear's Richard Hammond after his crash was with a newspaper, rather than with one of our reporters.

The BBC, just like other broadcasters, could report what was said in Monday's Daily Mirror interview, but only with attributing it to the paper. Similarly, we could show the picture of Richard the paper had taken, but only if we showed the whole of the front page, including the name. Often when newspapers have big interviews which they know other media will want to report, their lawyers will send round notes to broadcasters setting out these terms, and the Mirror's lawyers did so here.

We were concerned that the BBC audience would be confused about why Richard was being interview by the Mirror. Richard is so well-known as a BBC presenter and had shortly before the crash signed a new TV presenting contract. But he is also a regular columnist on the Mirror.

We also understand that his doctors had advised him not to do any broadcast interviews at this stage. Nevertheless it's important for our viewers to see and hear Richard as soon as possible, and I hope he will agree to come in front of our cameras in the near future when he feels up to it.


  • 1.
  • At 05:23 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • John, Devon wrote:

Why is the interview with John Hammond "News"?

  • 2.
  • At 05:34 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • ELIZABETH wrote:

Please rest assured I was not in any way worried about why Richard Hammond spoke to the Daily Mirror rather than your goodselves. I like the rest of the population wish him well but this issue does not amount to important national news. Please look at where this item of news was put in the various news programmes last night and hang your head in shame.

  • 3.
  • At 06:49 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • J Westerman wrote:

There is a lesson in this for all drivers.
How was he fastened into his driving seat?
What would he advise generally about the security of the driver and passengers?

  • 4.
  • At 08:15 AM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Brian wrote:

I suppose it was a bit weird, but as ever the bottom line is that money talks. I can't say I'd be any different, if I was in his position.

  • 5.
  • At 10:39 AM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Ritter wrote:

"We were concerned that the BBC audience would be confused about why Richard was being interview by the Mirror."

Are you being serious? Exactly how many viewers/listeners have contacted the BBC expressing 'confusion' regarding Hammond's interview(s) being in the Mirror as opposed to on the BBC? Isn't your 'concern' somewhat misplaced and patronising to viewers of BBC News?

  • 6.
  • At 11:07 AM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Jason Crawley wrote:

Do you not feel, Peter, that it's rather insensitive to be quibbling about where a man who is still recovering from a significant brain injury does his first interview?

As you said, he's been advised by his doctors not to do any broadcast interviews yet - but as far as you're concerned, that seemingly doesn't matter a jot compared to "confusing the BBC audience" and pleasing the viewers.

Let the man recover first, then deal with those issues later.

  • 7.
  • At 01:02 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Ramblingsid wrote:

I had hoped that one postive result of John Hammond's sad and unfortunate accident might have been the ditching of Top Gear together with its infantile obsession with speed and its irritatingly smug presenters.

  • 8.
  • At 01:22 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Rikki wrote:

I rather selfishly admit I am looking forward to the BBC's first interview with Richard - there was so much information, coverage and opinion when the accident happened that I think it is almost a requirement now that we hear the man himself explain it.

But please don't rush or pressure him into it - not that I believe you would. A full recovery is the most important consideration.

I agree with others that it isn't important national news, but I think this is above other 'celebrity' news and should feature somewhere.

Okay, why have people started calling him John Hammond? And can people please leave the debate about Top Gear's supposed obsession with speed until AFTER he's back on our screens?

The accident happened at speed, yes, but was apparently caused by a mechanical malfunction. If he'd been in a stationary jet-powered car and a different mechanical malfunction had happened, he may have died. The speed of the vehicle does not necessarily determine the danger.

  • 10.
  • At 01:43 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • John wrote:


Clearly you've found something out about Top Gear which it's millions of dedicated viewers are missing. You must feel very smug and proud of yourself.

If Top Gear bothers you so much, don't watch it. I can't stand Points of View, anything with Anthony Worral Thompson or anything with 'Celebrity' in the title so don't watch them either. Quite simple really.

  • 11.
  • At 02:03 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Darren wrote:

Will the BBC ever broadcast the crash?

  • 12.
  • At 02:09 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Nikki wrote:

I agree totally with Jason Crawley (comment 6) - it is great to hear that Richard Hammond is feeling well enough to give an interview, and surely it is entirely up to him who he chooses to speak to. Giving BBC viewers an opportunity to see and hear him is not at all important compared to following medical advice.

  • 13.
  • At 02:15 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Blake wrote:

Comments 1 & 7: his name is Richard Hammond (obviously can't have been in the news completely too much, then). I think I'm right in saying that John Hammond, the weather forecaster, is perfectly well.

  • 14.
  • At 02:56 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • tim wrote:

Who is John Hammond?

I agree that where Richard Hammond does interviews is of no concern to me, I just hope he gets better and makes a full recovery. I think you're a little too close to the action if you think that viewers' confusion is really an issue Peter.

  • 15.
  • At 03:40 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Lucy Jones wrote:

I was confused about his interview with the Mirror (perhaps I am part of a very small minority) and this cleared things up nicely. Since I wouldn't use the Mirror to line a cat litter tray I didn't know that "the Hamster" is a regular columnist. I look forward to seeing him on telly again soon.

  • 16.
  • At 04:22 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Edward Tufton wrote:

I'm certainly not confused. Whether Richard Hammond gives interviews is of little concern to me and who gets the job is of none.

I'm much more worried that the Head of TV News, no less, thinks that it is important (sic) that "our" viewers see and hear Richard as soon as possible.

Get some perspective here! In terms of the breadth of TV News, it isn't important. We know about the crash, we know he is recovering, we know he's talking. The only "important" thing is that someone's job in the BBC is at risk if ITV bids more for the first TV interview.

  • 17.
  • At 12:38 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Keith wrote:

Was I the only one who found the actual "story" of the interview badly done? The woman reading out Hammond's words seem to put emphasis on all the wrong syllables, it was very strange. A brief comment by the main newsreader in the studio would have sufficed I think.

  • 18.
  • At 01:59 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Amanda Gresham wrote:

Dear Peter and all who have commented so far,
It is my opinion that you are all missing the real issue here, Richard and his wife had the courage to tell their story to the public, highlighting the devastating effects that a Traumatic Brain Injury causes. This is the fastest growing injury in the Western world, yet it is the least talked about, least funded and the most misunderstood and misrepresented. Perhaps the BBC could do more in highlighting this issue. Thank you Richard and Mindy
From fellow TBI survivor and his family.

  • 19.
  • At 02:54 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Barry wrote:

Who cares when we here fom Richard Hammond in a TV interview,the fact that he put himself at risk by driving a jet powered car must have brought untold worry to his wife and children.

  • 20.
  • At 06:34 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • ELIZABETH wrote:

I don't believe it yet another non- story about Richard Hammond on tonight's news. Stop it you are making idiots of yourselves.

  • 21.
  • At 11:01 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Robert Wheatley wrote:

It is so reassuring to read that the BBC has decided that it is not biased. I feel so mucxh better now.
Don't you just love it? When Bill Clinton got caught doing something illegal, he said, "A mistake has been made and I will investigate it"; then nothing ever again was mentioned about it in the news.
Here we have a most similar event occurring. The BBC has declared that there is no bias there and that's the end of that (they expect).

  • 22.
  • At 12:23 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Sam wrote:

I think it was entirely appropriate for Hammond to talk to the mirror rather than the BBC.

In fact by doing so he is flatering the BBC.

Much as the Brits and indeed people all over the world love 'Hampster' and wish him well this is nontheless a tabloid story not a story particularly for the BBC.

  • 23.
  • At 03:08 AM on 28 Oct 2006,
  • Michael McFarlane wrote:

Without intending to trivialise the crash Mr.Hammond was involved in, surely those who inhabit the BBC newsroom have issues of higher importance deserving of debate other than a car crash?. After all an interview about such an incident would take approximately 1 or 2 mins maximum, before the boredom factor would take over.Mr Hammond should be giving his space and time for recuperation, and the BBC should get back to doing what it's licence payers expects of it, reporting the News.

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