Great Britain

‘It’s LBC, I told them not to ring’: Vaccine expert repeatedly interrupted during radio interview by rival station

A vaccine expert was repeatedly interrupted during a segment on BBC Radio 4’s by phone calls from a rival station.

Professor Anthony Harnden said he had received multiple phone calls from London-based talk and current-affairs broadcast LBC while he was attempting to answer questions from listeners of the Today programme.

The deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is also a professor of primary care at Oxford University. 

Speaking on Saturday morning on Radio 4, the expert answered a range of listener queries, including whether it is safe for those already vaccinated to kiss their grandchildren and how soon after being immunised you can consume alcohol.

Prof Harden’s phone initially rang three minutes into the segment, then again 20 seconds later.

Around a minute later, presenter Justin Webb acknowledged the buzzing phone: “Can we go on to vaccines and appointments” he said, “and thanks for turning off the phone, obviously someone is trying to break the rules and get through directly to you.”

“You have to do it through Radio 4, there’s no other way to get to the professor”, Webb jested.

Soon after, when asked about the difference in efficacy between the Pfizer and Oxford vaccines, the phone was heard again in the background.

“It is someone very persistent who is trying to get through to you,” co-presenter Martha Kearney said. “They’re not taking no for an answer!”

“I’m really sorry about this, I’ll tell you who it is” Harnden said, “It’s LBC, and I told them not to ring.”

“Sabotaged! By another radio station”, Webb joked before Martha said, “It’s a no, LBC”

After answering a few more questions, Webb light-heartedly concluded the interview: “We appreciate your time this morning, even if the producers at LBC would rather you have not spent it with us.”

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