My TV No-Show

I had a surprise this afternoon: an email arrived from ITV inviting me on some show tomorrow morning to talk about the Lancet report.

Two slight snags. I didn’t know what Lancet report they were talking about, so could hardly be expected to say anything about it. Secondly, I seldom get up much before noon, so any time tomorrow morning was completely out of the question.

A quick online search failed to turn up any recent “Lancet report”. So I remained completely in the dark until this evening, when Dick Puddlecote shed a bit of light on it:

a couple of tobacco control harebrains from New Zealand have a cunning plan to grab attention (and, by extension, grants).

Writing in The Lancet, they will tomorrow predict an end to smoking by 2040. No, not just in New Zealand … but the entire world! Apparently, “the time has come for the world to acknowledge the unacceptability of the damage being done by the tobacco industry and work towards a world essentially free from the sale (legal and illegal) of tobacco products”.

I see. The article will be published in the Lancet tomorrow,  and they wanted someone to pass judgement on it without having had the opportunity to even read the damn thing. That really stacks any interview in favour of anyone (e.g. the authors) who may have read the thing in advance. I’m not a bit surprised, of course: This is how Tobacco Control and the media work.

But the real surprise is that I was invited at all. It’s the Simon Clarks and Chris Snowdons of the world who get invited on these shows. Presumably, not having had the opportunity to read the report either, they declined to comment. And so the show’s producers had to look further and further down their list of possible invitees, until right at the bottom they came across… Frank Davis.

“Who’s he?” I can imagine the producer asking.

“Some angry blogger who wants Tobacco Control destroyed. The police get called about him regularly. He may be in prison by now, for all I know.”

“Get hold of him. He could be just the man we want. Do you know which prison he’s in?”

It set me wondering what sort of thing I’d say on air. I somehow or other don’t think I’d be one of those people who comes out with stuff like, “Of course everyone knows that smoking is bad for you, but…” and “Yes, we must think of the chiiiiiildren, yet all the same, in a free country…” In fact I don’t think I’d toe the consensus line on anything. I’d disagree about everything. So I could imagine how the interview might go:

Emily Newsworthy: “Frank Davis is a blogger who bangs on about the smoking ban. He may be in prison by now, for all we know. Nor do we know for what heinous crime either. Frank Davis, what’s your prison’s-eye view of the Lancet report?”

Frank Davis: “Well, I haven’t read it. But I’m sure it’s complete bollocks.”

EN: “How can you say that if you haven’t read it?”

FD: “Because everything that Tobacco Control says is always complete bollocks.”

EN: “Really? It’s a well-established fact that 400,000 people a year die from passive smoking. Are you saying that’s complete bollocks?”

FD: “You took the very words right out of my mouth.”

EN: “Everybody knows that smoking causes lung cancer. Or is that complete bollocks too?”

FD: “Yes. It’s the biggest crock of bollocks of all.”

EN: “Is that really the sort of message you think should be sent to our chiiiildren?”

FD: “Exactly. The sooner they find out that it’s all bollocks, the better.”

EN: “Are you seriously challenging the conclusions drawn by thousands of expert researchers over the past half century about the dangers of tobacco?”

FD: “Of course I am. Just because they call themselves experts or researchers doesn’t mean that they’ve done any real research, or are experts about anything. And bear in mind that all the so-called expert research started life in Nazi Germany.”

EN: “Amanda Sponge, I’d like to bring you back in here. As a representative of Happy Dancing SmokeFree Kids of Dagenham, what do you make of what Frank Davis has just said?”

AS: “Aside from the Godwin-style Nazi slur, well, I’m shocked and dismayed that there are still knuckle-dragging throwbacks like him still around – freely using the b-word, of course – when everybody else knows perfectly well that smoking causes not only lung cancer but most other diseases as well, including ebola fever. He’s worse than Jeremy Clarkson. And we know for a fact that 400,000 people die every year from passive smoking…”

FD: “So where are all the bodies, fish-face?”

AS: “Really!!! Do we have to tolerate this level of abuse? There may be children listening!”

EN: “I agree. Guard! Guard!! Can you please take this man back to his cell right now!!”

AS: “And lock the door behind him!!”

Something like that.

It’s not going to happen, of course. I declined the offer. “Other commitments”, or something.

And, with luck, I’ll never be asked again.



About Frank Davis

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35 Responses to My TV No-Show

  1. Tony says:

    This could be good news. It means at least one person at ITV has at least heard of your blog.

    In other news (hope you don’t mind me mentioning UKIP), UKIP are holding a public meeting to ‘save our pubs’:
    Seems to be in Stourbridge if you or any of your readers live nearby.

  2. jaxthefirst says:

    Oooh, Frank. They’ve noticed you. Interesting. I wonder whether this is a new media tactic – seek out internet-based anti-ban folks and set them up in a loaded interview about an article which hasn’t been published yet, and facing an army of genned-up “experts” to shoot down in flames every single comment they say, in the hope of diminishing their increasing popularity. It sounds like you’ve narrowly escaped a Farage-style character attack. Fame at last!

    And, on the report. Well … wasn’t it the little anti-smoking Mecca of New Zealand who proudly announced that they’d be totally “smoke-free” by 2012?? Hmm. Haven’t heard much about that recently, have we? How’s that going, by the way, all you NZ antis?

  3. Frank it means you’ve won! They noticed but for one reason……your a smash hit with the internet and all the hitz you get and the damning evidence we all post. Especially the links we lead back to you Blog and o many others. Of curse they’ve noticed and bo doubt it was a hatchet ambush waiting to happen but Id have taken them up and ruled the denbate and what was said. Never let a chance to SMASH your enemies go by,hell you might even end up with a knighthood by the queen yet! God knows you’ve earned one.

  4. Reinhold says:

    :-D Laughed out loud. What I seldom do.
    Grand interview, Frank! Yes, tell them! :-D

  5. Darn! Thought I had this filter set to block out the “b” word! ::sigh::

    Heh, “Happy Dancing SmokeFree Kids of Dagenham,” Beautiful!

    And good job dodging an ambush interview! They must indeed set these things up deliberately: there’s no reason in the world for them to have honestly assumed that there was no need to mention the subject specifics. Sheesh, a LETTER to a journal? And not quite even officially published yet?

    Well done … though if they ever give you a shot at a level playing field you might consider taking them up on it!


  6. cherie79 says:

    Priceless! I would love to see that.

  7. Lepercolonist says:

    I would love to see you properly prepared with ample time to debate these fraudsters. In my book, you would be odds-on to roll them.

  8. audreysilk says:

    This is not an opinion to say you should have gone on (heh, I turned down a radio interview for tomorrow morning because of the too early hour too) but for the record, when a media outlet asks for you to participate and you’re not familiar with the material they’re referring to all you need to do is ask. They’ll not only tell you but they’ll send it to you for you to read. The media is bad and they might want to corner you when you DO go on, but they’re not THAT bad where they won’t provide the discussion material beforehand. I have never had a problem with that. And perhaps had you said yes first they might have then volunteered it without even being asked.

    • Audrey do you remember Sgt Barry Sadler who wrote the battle of the green berets.

      He was an author and an avid soldier of fortune.

      I knew the man and a few of his family thru my mother.

      A certain Tabloid TV show in 1990 came into my moms house t do an interview with Sadlers ex wife shortly after he had been shot in the head in Guatemala and had been shipped to Alvin C York VA Medical center Murfreesboro tn. I went to see him there a few times driving his ex wife.

      The tabloids and his publisher were pushing for the interview and finally they offered a nice sum for the interview which she did. I was worried they simply wanted to use her to build a case of Saddlers wild carefree hard living life and womanizing ways and spend thrift ways. He could call his publisher and get a half million advance on his next book about a Roman soldier of fortune.

      The point here is for 18 hours at my mothers dining room table a whole crew was there and interviewed her til almost 4am in the morning and then called it a wrap.

      They kept her that long to break her down to get her to speak of his womanizing ways and his radical lifestyle as that’s what sales….dirt!

      What they did was piece together sentences she said to create the story they wanted tears and all……….

      Trust the media never unless you understand how they operate……..which Id say you know by now

    • Frank Davis says:

      Thanks for the advice, Audrey. I’ve never been on TV (like you and Walt have). And this is the first time I’ve been asked (I think). So I’ve really never thought about it before.

      One thing that wasn’t clear was whether they wanted me present in person, or just on the end of a phone line. It would have probably been next to impossible to be present at ITV’s studio, which are almost certainly somewhere in London, and I live about 200 miles away. But I could have done a Skype interview. Those seem to be increasingly common. It’d have been fun to be smoking in my own home on Skype.

      • roobeedoo2 says:

        All tv news is scripted – we forget that because it’s ‘news’, but it is all scripted.

        Yours is infinitely better than the current re-runs, Frank. But the icing on cake would be to have you smoking throughout via Skype.

        I would turn the tv on to see that.

  9. waltc says:

    I lol’d too. Perfect. And would love to have seen that on air. Tho, yes, they’d’ve tried to sandbag you, but otoh a wry curmudgeon spouting common sense would appeal to a lot of actual people. That being our goal.

    From having done television gigs like that one I can tell you that it’s always last minute, at best the night before, that you get the invitation. It’s just how shows are always last-minute planned, and had you been interested, you could have asked for them to e you a copy of the study and they’d have done it. I can tell you too that they often pre-interview you on the phone both to catch your drift ( often, the better to eat you with, my dear) and to see if you’re articulate. On the one hand, in the same interview you can catch their drift too, but never be lulled by their seeming neutrality; they’re usually but–important ” but” –not always against us, Depends on the show, the host, and how far out the TC premise is. However, if you’re aware and prepared you can not only hold your own but destroy your opponent. If you ever want to do one, I can give you some Helpful Hints about Preparing for TElevision because I think you’d be great and great for the general cause.

    Admit I turned down some too-early ones too tho Audrey, to this day, tho a night-person too, wakes ar dawn like a trouper. And they usually (and always if you ask) send a limo.

    • Frank Davis says:

      As I said to Audrey upthread, I’ve never been on TV (apart from a little cameo holding a placard at Stony Stratford), so I would probably be a bit of a lamb to the slaughter. However, I’ve watched enough of these sorts of interviews to know a few of the tricks they play.

      I think the hardest thing is probably that you have to think on your feet, like in a boxing match. And at 6 am in the morning I probably would have difficulty thinking on my back, never mind thinking on my feet.

  10. waltc says:

    I think Audrey and I must have been posting the same thoughts at dead heat so I didn’t see her comment and regret having called her an early morning trouper. :)

    On the D C court’s banning the guy smoking in his own home. Banzaf comments on this libertarian news article. I “replied” to him but I think we could use some more posts there, either attacking him or the injunction itself.

    . (Harley, could I respectfully suggest that you don’t kill the thread there with multiple and prolix posts? . In a newspaper thread, as opposed to among friends, people just stop reading when they see that wall of prose and it discourages them from posting too. Sometimes less is more and brevity is what Shakespeare said it was.)

    • Walt I don’t go to have a dash with the Nazis,I go to kill them and destroy them.

      Perhaps Im the Rambo of us all,either way I fight to win. You guys can fancy dance with words all you want. I want the enemy laid bare!

      • Edgar says:

        Well said, Harley. Waltc’s ‘respectful’ suggestion was exactly the opposite of ‘respectful’ and what you choose to do with an opportunity is none of his business.

  11. waltc says:

    Comments on, of all places, the Washington Post article on the DC case are overwhelmingly against the PC couple. Heartening.

    • Wow they made it to over 300 comments when I left it was at 143


      3/12/2015 11:31 AM CDT

      Your analogy is even worse. The guy is smoking in his own house. Smoking is LEGAL. This is the sort of thing that people living in close quarters have to deal with all the time. If the new home owners didn’t want to inhale cigarette smoke, they should have checked to see if their prospective neighbors were smokers. Making this guy light up outside is absurd.

  12. Mills killer in the bar fight over smoking was FOUND GUILTY OF 2ND DEGREE MURDER

  13. An interview like that would have gone viral Frank, top stuff! :)

  14. There’s now THREE tobacco giants threatening to sue the government

    Philip Morris is threatening legal action.

  15. THE GOVERNMENT IS facing a legal stand-off with three tobacco giants over the introduction of plain-packaging.

    Philip Morris, Imperial Tobacco, and Japan Tobacco Limited have all sent legal letters to the Government on the issue, threatening varying levels of action, Minister for Children James Reilly has said.

    The latest, Philip Morris, has written regarding the cost of manufacturing plain packaging.

    “They would seek to intimidate us, with the billions they have in turnover,” Reilly told Newstalk Breakfast.

    We’re a sovereign state, a republic, and we reserve the right to have public health policies that protect our people, and in particular our children, from ever taking up this killer habit.

    He noted that the Bill was carefully drafted, with legal advice sough throughout, with the view that it would have to be defended in the courts.

    “[The companies] may take us to court, we will defend it robustly, and we will peruse them for our costs,” Reilly added, stressing that while this may take some time, there will be no delay in the introduction of this legislation.

    President Michael D. Higgins last night signed the legislation into law. From May 2016, it will be illegal to manufacture branded packages for the Irish market, and from May 2017 it will be illegal to sell them, meaning there is a ‘wash-out’ period.

    Reilly, was who instrumental in drafting this legislation during his time as Minister for Health, said he will be calling for another increase in the price of cigarettes in Budget 2016.

    He added that he would like to see more local authorities roll out their own initiatives, such as banning smoking in areas where children congregate.

    “There are 5,200 Irish people dying every single year of premature death and avoidable death, because they have smoked,” Reilly noted.

    Originally published 10.43am

  16. Alan Picton

    4 hrs

    The scene is a large plush office somewhere in central London… a meeting is taking place….
    ‘Good morning everone…welcome to the monthly meeting of the NHS public health policy committee.My name is Sir Edmond Squeezebelly MBE…OBE and I am in the chair.Today’s agenda is ‘public health-what do people enjoy doing and how do we go about stopping them from doing it?’ I’ll throw that open to everyone…any suggestions?’ Good morning Sir Edmond my name is Janet Rail Porter and I am in charge of the annual billion pound anti- smoking advertising budget.How about spending a few million on a new tv campain showing some poor looking sod, hair all unkempt…looking suicidal, standing at the open doorway of their own house puffing on a cigarette trying desperately to blow the smoke outside but the camera cleverly captures huge plumes of smoke drifting menacingly towards some poor kid in a pram? The voiceover could say…in a quiet but scary voice.. something like ‘Did you know that over 80% of tobacco smoke is invisible and can travel UP TO 30 YARDS?…no matter WHERE you stand YOUR CHILDREN will still breath in your poisonous fumes!’ Sir Edmond:’Don’t you ever actually WATCH tv Janet?It’s already BEEN done… very successful it was too… from our statistics we believe that possibly just over 12 people could have given up smoking in the past year because of that ad.Best 15 million pounds we ever spent,I think.Any OTHER ideas on protecting the public?We need to come up with something that will REALLY scare the shit out of everyone!’
    ‘I’ve got an idea sir….Humprey Peabody is my name sir…assistant to the assistant of head of human resources for the NHS. ‘Well we all know motor cars produce millions and millions of cubic feet per year of extremely poisonous and obnoxious gases which are causing all sorts of breathing problems for everyone who is forced to breath them in.So why don’t we mount a tv campaign pointing out to the public the major health dangers of cars and try to persuade people to stop using them so and instead use the public transport sytem?We’ve already done the figures sir and the adverts would only cost half of what we currently spend on anti smoking advertisements and save an estimated 200,000 lives every year’Sir Edmond: ‘I drive a bloody CAR, Peabody… do you expect me to get into work every day?Public transport?…Have you ever BEEN on it Peabody? Well,I have and I can tell you that it’s HELL ON EARTH…the roller broke down once and I had to get the tube in.Forced to sit next to smelly ordinary members of the public some of whom were SMOKERS…I could tell because they all stank of tobacco! No way am I going through THAT again.So how did YOU get to work this morning Peabody?”I came on my bike sir…I don’t actually own a car…don’t really LIKE them if I’m honest’ Sir Edmond:’Peabody-you’re a total ARSE..Your idea is bloody ridiculous and besides…most people actually OWN a car-they just wouldn’t stand for it.Don’t want a revolution on our hands,do we?No-best stick to attacking the smokers…everybody hates them AND the government will give us shit loads of money to spend on more advertising.Next idea please?…
    Footnote: Humprey Peabody is now assistant to the assistant buyer of paperclips for the NHS.

  17. Frank Davis says:

    I mentioned Jeremy Clarkson,who’s in a spot of hot water:

    Naturally, I’m backing Clarkson. Just as I’ll back anyone who decides not to wear the saddle of conformity, obedience and inoffensiveness. The dream of the BBC is to inflict their Orwellian version of a bland, desperately equal but false society on all of us whilst sitting smugly in their media towers deciding how we should all act, talk and think. Mavericks are ridiculed and silenced, even the ones paying the bills and most definitely the ones making people laugh or think. There is little point in having a State broadcaster if it cannot control the State message and Clarkson’s message of humour and fun does not bode well with social engineers desperate for control over the very proles who are forced to fund it even if they never watch it.

    If we lose this battle, it won’t just be tobacco that comes in boring plain wrappers with only the state message stamped on it, it’ll be everything – booze, then fast food, then food, then fashion and every other aspect of our mundane lives that our masters are so desperate to control. We need more Clarksons breaking down the BBC into manageable chunks to be sold off, not less. We need more mavericks happy to answer back, happy to turn their insolent mouths into popular thought and more free thinkers and speakers to fight back against a generation of nay sayers and yoghurt knitting collectivists determined to see us all in androgenous Mao suits slaving over our tax bills.

    Keep your foot down Clarkson, it’s a long road we all need to travel.

    • beobrigitte says:

      It is difficult to avoid the row – the BBC goes on.. and on … and on … and on.

      Surprisingly, the BBC officials just do not seem to have understood that it is Jeremy Clarkson being Jeremy Clarkson which brings them a lot of £££££. People get bored with political correctness – and we have had years of it!!!

      My friends no longer are allowed to call me “Kraut”. I am no longer allowed to call them “scouse trollops”. This political correctness is taking away the glue that binds us together.
      Only a few days ago following conversation occurred:
      K (Kraut): Remember how much we hated each other at the beginning of the course?
      ST (Scouse Trollop): What do you mean? We still hate each other!
      K: Yeah, but now we’re doing it as friends, so it’s perfectly sound.

      Of course we don’t hate each other! We are there for each other when needed and otherwise get on with our own lives. REAL friendship. I get an ashtray without asking in her house. And we love banter.

      I am not sure if Jeremy Clarkson would not wind me up at some point – he is a real character – a thing our society is IN NEED OF! – but I’d cross that bridge if I’d got there.

      What I can see in this row is: a guy working, being helicoptered from one place to another, expecting to get what he calls a REAL meal inbetween. I’m with THAT – working on an empty stomach (being offered salad butties only) is just not productive.
      If the BBC cranks up the pace on it’s employees to the idiotic yuppie work hours (the yuppies still fail to explain why they can’t do their job in 7.5 hours!) on a minimal budget, why do they wonder when one of these employees has the backbone to complain?

      I’m with Jeremy Clarkson. Hope he is not beaten into conformity.

  18. garyk30 says:

    “400,000 people die every year from passive smoking…”

    Would be interesting to have those people in public to answer questions such as this:

    “That 400,000 number could only be true if there were 400,000 death certificates that listed such smoke as the ‘primary’ cause of death.
    Since there are only 3 ‘primary’ causes of death (heart failure, respiratory failure, and total brain failure), such certificates would be neither valid nor legal.

    Does your claim really rest on documents that are not valid or legal?

  19. Makes total sence

    Backyard BBQ ‘Emissions’ Targeted In EPA Project

    BY PAUL BEDARD, Washington Examiner

    The Environmental Protection Agency has its eyes on pollution from backyard barbecues.

    The agency announced that it is funding a University of California project to limit emissions resulting in grease drippings with a special tray to catch them and a “catalytic” filtration system.

    The $15,000 project has the “potential for global application,” said the school.

    • NevadaDoc
      1 hour ago

      I see it now, some goose stepping EPA storm troopers crash my BBQ and confiscate my grill because it’s not registered, I don’t have a backyard concealed grill permit and there was no background check when I purchased the grill.

      It’s a sad day when only criminal thugs will have the grills and we will have to roast our hotdogs over the kitchen stove.

  20. Rose says:

    I’m very impressed, Frank, fancy ITV turning up in our neck of the woods, I wonder if the researcher found your glowing recommendation on Tobacco Tactics.

  21. beobrigitte says:

    Frank, again, a brilliant post!! I laughed – and then thought: ‘ yes, that is the anti-smoking brigade. They get ‘non-conform’ people on TV (ITV must be harder up than I thought!) to make a spectacle.

    Funnily enough, some papers did have something (8-liner hidden on page 8 or 15) about this ‘extinction’ of tobacco sale by 2040 – with NO BAN NEEDED.
    Didn’t make sense. We are already being banned and kicked out of society.

    Nevertheless, I would have made time, got a nice drink, placed the ashtray on the table, taking the phone off the hook, and watch this interview!

  22. Perfect opportunity to don the old Hitler uniform and mustache and do Hitler’s anti tobacco gibberish on TV. DAMN! (Where’s Hairy?) That would have REALLY pissed them off! “We will KILL YOU if you don’t stop smoking, you goose stepping little turds! HEIL!

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