Radio 4 presenter Laurie Taylor offended listeners with 'cox sackers' gag, Trust rules


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The Independent Culture

The Radio 4 presenter Laurie Taylor seriously offended listeners when he used the words "cox sackers" during a discussion about a rowing team, the BBC Trust has ruled.

During the Thinking Allowed afternoon show Taylor read out the phrase in a listener’s email which has been sent in response to a previous item about the sacking of a cox from a rowing team.

One listener described it as a “grossly offensive play on words” and took the complaint to the BBC Trust after the objection was rejected by the corporation’s management.

Although intended as a light-hearted play on words, the Trust said that many listeners would have mistaken it for a “seriously offensive word” and ruled that it was a breach of the BBC’s broadcasting guidelines.

The Trust’s complaints unit said the phrase was “not articulated clearly enough.” It was “highly likely to have been misheard by a significant part of the audience as ‘cocksuckers’”, including children because it was broadcast at 4.15 pm when parents were doing the school run.

The listener’s email had thanked the programme for its “insight into the social dynamics of the Cambridge boat race crew...Heavens to Betsy, what a bunch of cox sackers.”