Gasman under pressure over Bowie tribute

David Bowie Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A Twitter mention of the Thin White Duke made some see red

As David Bowie fans around the world marked the anniversary of the star's death, one particular tribute sparked controversy like no other.

It came not from Bowie's widow Iman, nor from one of his many famous collaborators such as Iggy Pop or Brian Eno.

No, the unlikely source was Paul - surname unknown - who works on the British Gas Help Twitter account.

On Tuesday, when Paul tweeted to let everyone know he was on shift and ready to help with customer queries about dodgy boilers and other gas-related matters, he also mentioned an unrelated subject that was on many people's minds:

Image copyright @BritishGasHelp/Twitter

While much of the reaction was positive, others who saw the tweet were enraged at what they saw as corporate bandwagon jumping.

Image copyright @grumpoldchris/Twitter

Others were offended by Paul's use of grammar.

Image copyright @thebriankeen/Twitter

And some referenced Bowie lyrics as they mused on whether utility company employees might have better things to do with than to tweet about dead rock stars.

Image copyright @habbyhatter/Twitter

Stung by the negative responses, Paul tweeted again to insist that his motives were sincere.

Image copyright @BritishGasHelp/Twitter

Some seemed prepared to accept the sentiment, but felt there was a time and a place - and this wasn't it.

Image copyright @CobboldMassive/Twitter

However, by now the initial ferocity of the onslaught against Paul had produced a backlash against the backlash. Those who had been charmed rather than alarmed by a corporate account showing some personality took up arms.

Image copyright @ASherrySipper/Twitter

Writer Jon Ronson was among those who applauded.

Image copyright @jonronson/Twitter

And there were some tongue-in-cheek expressions of solidarity.

Image copyright @munsimunsi/Twitter
Image copyright @katecliffy/Twitter

A spokesman for British Gas confirmed to BBC Trending that Paul is a real person and that he and and his colleagues working on the help account are encouraged to add personality to their tweets. He added that the company had nothing to add on the content of the tweets.


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