Ed Driscoll

Subliminal Schadenfreude

French far-right party Front National (FN) President Marine Le Pen delivers her statement after the first round of the French regional elections in Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie region, in Henin-Beaumont, northern France on December 6, 2015. Le Pen polled 40% of the votes whilst her party ranks at the first place of France's political parties. Photo by Bakounine/Sipa USA

September 12, 2000: BBC receives DNC press release from across the pond, dutifully cranks out article titled, “Democrats smell campaign rat:”

The Republican presidential candidate, George W Bush, has denied that his team planted the word “Rats” as a subliminal message in a television advertisement criticising his Democrat opponent Al Gore.

Mr Gore’s aides seized on the 30-second ad, giving a slowed-down version of it to the New York Times. They said a Democrat in Seattle had spotted the apparently subliminal message after a close inspection.

“Eek! BBC overrun by rats…” the London Daily Mail reported yesterday:

The rodents have been spotted in the Radio 4 office at Television Centre in West London, which houses staff working on the Today programme, the World At One and PM — as well as presenters John Humphrys, Evan Davis and Sarah Montague.

Workers blame the infestation on the building’s neglect now that so many of their colleagues are relocating to the newly refurbished Broadcasting House near Oxford Street and to Salford.

A BBC insider tells me: ‘Our working conditions are becoming increasingly squalid because they’re not bothering to carry out repairs, as we are supposed to be moving soon as well — although we have no idea when.

‘We’ve had leaking ceilings, a burst sewage pipe, dirty socks in the fridge and now rats.’

Their presence has not prevented an outburst of black humour — one prankster is said to have left a rubber decoy rat next to Humphrys’s desk. Vermin control inspectors have visited the offices and left a number of traps under desks.

I blame global warming — and no doubt, the BBC does as well. But perhaps the BBC could draft one of their choices for the 2011 woman of the year into solving the problem; she’s been reported to tuck into rodentia on occasion when feeling peckish.