It’s a perennial problem for BBC schedulers: are you allowed to have conventional cookery experts on TV without also having a convicted poisoner for balance? The Great British Bake Off had to move to Channel 4 because Paul Hollywood was too scared to taste 12 mini cheesecakes with a baked element knowing that half of these might be flavoured with arsenic. Wuss.
BBC guidelines are clear: if you’re going to have a talented chef you also need to invite either a clueless moron or, better still, a poisoner.
Similar rules apply to scientific programming. For every qualified epidemiologist the BBC needs to source somebody so thick they think Covid doesn’t exist, or that Bill Gates might be using the vaccine to turn people into sexy robots.
“We should be ok if we stick to people of middle ability, but as soon as we get somebody with a degree or, God forbid, a PhD we have to find somebody of equally impressive stupidity”, said a spokesman. “We’re doing a new series of Horizon and we’ve had to book the Cabinet en masse. Thank God for Priti Patel, she provides stupidity balance up to Nobel Prize level”.
BBC balance does bring some benefits. By popular demand the Beeb is working on a format where Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Matt Hancock and Jacob Rees-Mogg blind-taste food prepared by Gordon Ramsay and/or The Wimbledon Poisoner. If they do get poisoned, expert medical attention will either be provided by medic Chris Whitty or populist right-wing journalist Toby Young. He doesn’t have any actual qualifications but his opinions are strong enough to counterbalance five years at medical school.