After all the efforts of the Murdoch press and its cheerleaders failed to stop the new series of BBC Top Gear from airing - on schedule - last Sunday, one might have thought that this particular barrage of creativity from the Baby Shard bunker would come to an end. But that thought would have been misplaced, as the Sun has, once again, cobbled together another “exclusive” on the show based on little more than the hacks’ imagination.
WAAAH! WAAAH! It's not fair!
Lucy Jones’ article is so clearly the product of invention - that means it’s not true - that not even the Sun’s own choice of photos stands up the claims being made. After saying that producers “inserted canned laughter … Recordings of people hysterically laughing had to be inserted into the critically panned first episode of the BBC2 motoring show when the around 500-strong large crowd failed to laugh at jokes by new presenter Evans and his sidekick Matt LeBlanc”, you need only look at the photos.
The one captioned “Fake chuckles ... studio audiences stayed silent during series premiere” shows the audience members behind Chris Evans laughing. A photo captioned “Desperation ... Evans forced to plead with the dead-pan crowd” shows the audience applauding. The one claimed to show “Audience members slam the production ... 'there were so many long, awkward silences’” shows Evans in full flow (ie not silent).
WAAAH! WAAAH! We don't like Chris Evans!
It just gets worse: “Bored audience ... droves of viewers accuse BBC of faux pas” is used to describe a photo where the audience is laughing and applauding. The Sun claims “droves of viewers also accused the BBC of using canned laughter and admitted that the audience looked bored”. Droves? THREE TWITTER USERS.
WAAAH! WAAAH! We don't like the Yank either!
And it gets worse still: the choice of words has clearly been run past the Sun’s lawyers, and it shows. Hence we read “One guest in attendance said: ‘There were so many long, awkward silences. But when I watched the show back I just couldn’t believe how much laughter they had added in’”. One guest in attendance. That’s code for “we couldn’t find a real audience member to ask, so we made it up”.
WAAAH! WAAAH! We want Jezza instead!
That the “One guest in attendance” is the invention of the Sun newsroom is given away when they tell “After seeing Chris and Matt do hundreds of takes and spiel out horrendous jokes for four hours straight we were all bored out of our minds”. Two things here. One, it took Clarkson and Co four hours to get an edition of Top Gear in the can. And two, if there had been “hundreds of takes”, it would have taken a lot longer.
Also the product of invention is a supporting “exclusive” article claiming “Warring hosts and behind-the-scenes plotting: We reveal why Top Gear has turned into car-crash TV”. This is almost completely dependent on those trusty stand-bys “An insider” and “A source”. This means the hacks can make it up to order. But we do get the hot news that there are “bookies offering odds on Evans being sacked after the first series”.
If only they sacked Sun reporters every time they lied. But then, there would not be any Sun reporters left after a couple of weeks.