Soft languge from the start


Ah, the BBC, how carefully you tread. On Wednesday’s Masterchef, we met Tim, 36, a very nice-seeming man and a very good cook, as it happened. He is, by trade, a Paediatrician. However, he was captioned as “Children’s Doctor”. This struck me as coy at the time, but the more I think about it and discuss it with other people, the more it becomes apparent that he was given this storybook epithet in order to avoid putting a word with “paed” onscreen. Children’s Doctor is factually correct – he is a doctor who specialises in treating chidren – but this makes him a paediatrician, in the same way an animal doctor is a vet, and a foot doctor is a chiropodist, and a vagina doctor is a gynaecologist. Can it really be true that the News Of The World has won? That any word which might be misconstrued as “paedophile” is now too sensitive to put before this stupid nation? If the BBC had captioned Tim a “paediatrician”, WHICH IS WHAT HE IS, would an angry stream of emails been sent at the very sight of the letters “p”, “a”, “e” and “d”?

Dear the BBC

I am writing to complain about the fact that a convicted child molester is currently making a raspberry jus on my screen. What kind of sick programme is this? I do not pay my licence fee so that murdering, pervert scum can learn how to cook a scallop on a bed of pea puree balanced on a slice of black pudding … oh hang on, the next letters in the word are “i”, “a”, “t”, “r” and “i” … what does that spell?

I hope I’m wrong. Maybe Tim asked to be billed thus. Maybe it’s not the BBC but the society we live in that’s to blame. Neither is a good outcome.

Oh, and come on, Tim!


25 thoughts on “Soft languge from the start

  1. I don't doubt that your absolutely right. A few years ago, a Welsh paediatrician was targeted by a 'vigilante mob' who presumably saw the requisite letters in his job title and filled in the rest themselves. What was especially ironic was that Private Eye had only run a cartoon along the same lines a few weeks before. You wouldn't want one of 'em cooking your dinner, would you?

  2. And, yeah. That's *conspicuously* weird. Maybe worth checking it's entry in the BBC pronunciation guide (if such a delightful thing still exists, I've always wanted a copy of it) to see how it should be handed without offending anyone/anything/clouds.

  3. Reminds me of the Harry Enfield sketch, where Tim Nice but Dim asks someone what they do, they reply paediatrician, and he says 'Well I admire your honesty but I can't say I approve.'

  4. I had the EXACT same thought as you! Why not just put 'Doctor' if you're so terrified that paediatrician would see him brutally killed on the way home. Surely that it was done his protection rather than offending anyone? I can't imagine that Masterchef is the staging ground for the seething vigilante armies anyway.

  5. Bang on the nail. Wasn't a paediatrician's office surrounded by an angry mob a few years back? As if a paedophile would announce his presence with a brass plaque!Neil, Barcelona

  6. I saw this at the time and just thought that the BBC had decided that any person that watches a Dara O'Briain impersonator licking cutlery clean on a nightly basis wouldn't know what a kiddy doctor might actually be. I blame those silly cuts at the BBC, I think I typed that correctly!Roger.

  7. I made this exact same comment at the time of watching (see my twitter account Everytime it appeared on screen it annoyed me. If they had a problem with it, they wouldn't have allowed John to use the word paediatrician when they were chatting to him. It's just dumbing down. Lowest common denominator and all that.

  8. What's really annoying is the constant labelling of contestants according to the number of children they have. Strange that they never say "Childless accountant Hannah" or similar. Some good continuity errors last night too. One second the cake's all over the plate, then it's whole again!

  9. I don't think it's a moral panic, I think they were just worried about putting a long word on the screen and alienating slightly dim viewers. A few years ago I was invited to take part in a TV series called Comedy Mavericks. By the time it reached the screen it had become Comedy Rebels. Apparently someone high up at C4 was worried veiwers would not know what "maverick" meant.On a similar note, I'm sure I don't have to mention the US shortening of the title of The Madness of King George III because Americans would think it was a sequel, but I will anyway.

  10. I assumed it was because the BBC thought people were too stupid to know what a paediatrician is, but I suspect this is more correct.John Torrode did actually say to the guy ".. so you're a paediatrician" at some point during the show, so obviously the BBC think people can't read.

  11. Just to go somewhere almost, but not completely, entirely unrelated, I have yet to figure out why the 'Merkins drop the "a"*, thus making the prefix "pedo-". Which normally relates to something entirely different – for instance, a pedometer measures your walking steps, not the number of children you have fiddled with.*apparently, they do this with quite a lot of Greek-derived words, e.g. they have a condition known as "hemophilia". It's bloody stupid really. The superfluous "U" argument I can sort of understand, but not this one.– David

  12. I was saying the exact same thing to Mrs. Swineshead but she said Torrode did call him a 'paedo' when he spoke with him.I want that scary cyborg lady to win.Or the madman who kept burning naan breads – he was hilarious.

  13. A pedant writes (actually can we use the word Pedant, sounds a bit dodgy):Excellent post. I should however point out that a Chiropodist is not a "foot doctor" in that they are not medically qualfied. Chiropodist (or Podiatrists) are a separate profession regulated by the Health Proffesions Council. (Of course they may still use the title doctor if they have a PhD).

  14. Andrew, I think your suggestion that Tim may have requested the change is the correct one. I can only guess at his reasons – the obvious motivation is fear – but think the BBC are exempt from accusations of timidity on this one.

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