back to article Phone-hack backlash BBC in embarrassing headline gaffes

We at Vulture Central know only too well that it has been an extremely busy week in the world of phone-hacking for reporters across the land, but that's surely no excuse for this worrisome piece of sloppy copy from none other than Auntie this morning. The BBC news magazine has thankfully now corrected its "Phone-hacking: The …


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  1. Marky W

    More importantly

    WTF is that thing in the bottom right corner of the picture?!

    Body part or sex toy?

    1. Oliver Mayes

      Artificial windpipe

      It was the first lab grown organ successfully transplanted into a living human.

    2. Archie The Albatross


      Yes it is.....all of the above.

    3. Bumpy Cat

      An artificial trachea ...

      A victim of throat cancer lost his trachea and was near death. The new trachea was grown from his stem cells on some sort of framework, and the transplant/implant was a success.

    4. Onyx26


      It's a body part. Do you not read the news!? Oh wait...

    5. Drew Scott
      Thumb Up

      Body part

      I believe that was the story published about the synthetic trachea.


      1. Marky W

        Oh, I see.

        Thanks for the responses. I've been on hols, missed recent news, etc (btw what's all this to-do with the NotW?)

        Still think it looks more like an artificial lady-pocket that a throat though. Although either could serve the same purpose I guess...aaaaand I'm off home now.

        1. Anonymous Coward


          at a guess?

  2. fixit_f
    Thumb Down

    Bloody hell

    That's absolutely shocking

  3. Gert Selkobi
    Thumb Down

    A common mistake.

    Although not one that is acceptable from such a high and mighty organisation as the BBC, this is a very common mistake. Last night I was reading through some technical articles on OpenBSD network security, written by an obviously intelligent person, which was littered with the exact same gotcha. If people only read their work back to themselves in a proof reading exercise, this would be easily caught.

    Awaits grammar check report from fellow commentards.

  4. BenDwire

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

    That is all.

  5. Old Painless

    I don't want to seem overly harsh...

    ..but anyone who uses the meaningless "COULD OF" instead of the meaningful "could've" should be killed on the spot

    Firm but firm, thats me

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      Try ...

      ... littered with exactly the same 'gotchas'.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Guten Tag

      Guten Tag Herr Commentard - I'm happy to oblige

      Your statement "which was" should be "which were" as you wouldn't say "the articles was".

      Also "proof reading" should be "proofreading".

      I'm also a little unhappy about the penultimate sentence.

      I now await "You call yourself a grammar nazi?!" replies...

      1. Bumpy Cat

        Muphry's Law

        If you post a reply pointing out a grammar or spelling error, you will make a grammar or spelling error yourself.

        (checks post very carefully)

        1. nyelvmark

          No, that's Skitt's law.

          Murphy's law runs (in one variation): Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

          Muphry's law is unknown to me, oddly.

        2. Glenn Booth

          @Bumpy Cat: That's not Murphy's law

          It's Skitt's law. Murphy had nothing to do with it. :-)

    3. Studley

      Oh, sweet irony

      I wholeheartedly agree, but I assume you're less of a stickler for apostrophes?

      1. Anonymous Coward



      2. Oz

        Oh sweet irony (part 2)

        ... or full stops?

        1. Noons
          Thumb Up

          this is not a title


      3. Eponymous Bastard

        Split infinitive!

        I wholeheartedly agree

        You wholeheartedly agree

        He / She wholeheartedly agrees . . .


        1. The Indomitable Gall

          @Eponymous Bastard

          What split infinitive? "I agree" is in the present tense, not the infinitive....

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Split Infinitives

          Split infinitives have occurred in English for ... 800 years? And since English is defined by common usage can we please put this nonsense to bed now?

    4. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Paris Hilton


      Everything I write and publish is a work of art and 100% correct until someone points in the first sentence its complete gibberish and their eyes have started bleeding from its hidiousness.

      You need someone else who has not seen the work before to read through it and see what mistakes they find.

      Paris because I probably just wrote a load of gibberish.

    5. Thomas 4


      Real clock up there.

    6. This post has been deleted by its author

    7. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      I would just like to comment..

      .. that it is compulsory for any grammar correcting post to MISspell the word Intelligent. This is commonly done by omitting one "l" (that is "L" for those who use a sans-serif font).

      Kind regards, your average troll. And have a nice weekend too. :-)

  6. Rebajas
    IT Angle

    Slow tech day...?

    Really, El Reg is reporting on grammar errors? Must be a slow day in the office.

  7. robert Tracey

    thats not as bad as there other headline

    did anyone see this headline as well today? (print screen used as they have fixed it now)

  8. Swoop

    Tut-tut, Auntie

    Well, who'd of thought it?

  9. The Electron

    Pot - kettle!

    It is not just the BBC (or El Reg) who seem to have trouble with spelling and grammar. Plenty of online and print media make silly mistakes, such using metre instead of meter (and vice-versa) and getting the SI units wrong (MHz, not mhz)!

    The problem stems from the "education" system. Whilst I was studying BTEC National Certificate and Higher National Certificate in Electronic Engineering, I was pleased to see how each year, we re-visited and revised the previous year's work, then added to its complexity. Schools should adopt this approach when teaching maths and English. You could ask me to 'conjugate a verb', but I cannot remember how!

  10. Anonymous Coward


    There are some great headlines on the BBC website from time to time. Like the one a couple of months ago: "Live: Osama bin Laden Dead"

  11. doperative

    "Phone-hacking: The other news you might 'ave missed, in'it"

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Not just grammar

      It's been updated with a spelling error too!

    2. Anonymous Coward

      thats not as bad as *there* other headline?

      As *their* surely?

    3. Scott Mckenzie


      Especially considering the usual standards on the Reg are way below that of the BBC!

    4. BorkedAgain

      I think you mean...


      1. Richard 102

        Or rather

        I've been thinking, but I ain't thunk!

      2. Michael Dunn



    5. Studley

      And again...

      My favourite in recent memory was an article about the launch of Halo: Reach. The first version of the article had an image of John-117 subtitled along the lines of "Master Chef is back for another explosive adventure".

    6. peter_dtm
      Thumb Down


      Hz - cycles per second (herz)

      m - millie

      M - mega

      - rule of thumb for most SI multipliers

      upper case = multiplier

      lower case - divisor

      mHz = millie herz

      MH = mega herz

      notable exception k = kilo as in

      km = kilometres (1000 metres) or kHz (1000 Hz)

      1. David 30


        Who is this millie?

      2. BorkedAgain
        Thumb Up

        Very good Peter.

        Also, there's a difference (a factor of eight) between Mb and MB.

        b - bit

        B - byte (8 bits)

        Obviously this shouldn't be a shock to anyone on here, but the number of times some numpty gets those confused when trying to sell me internet access drives me potty.

        (Mental image of toilet with steering wheel. Must lie down...)

  12. Anonymous Coward 101

    What a bunch of...


  13. Oliver Mayes

    Not exactly newsworthy

    I don't think a single day has gone by where I've not found at least one spelling/grammatical error in an BBC news article. I can't believe that no-one is bothering to check any of their stories before publishing.

  14. DJV Silver badge

    Surely knot?

    But, surely, that should of bin "Shirley knot?"

    1. Noons

      Re: Surely knot?

      Know, it shoed knot.

    2. Christopher W

      Shurely shome mishtake

      i frequently find myself reaching for the "Contact the Editors" page to inform them of misspelt words or poor grammatical constructions. It's really very disappointing.

      I had English Comprehension, English Language *AND* grammar lessons at school. I grew to love my engagement with my mother tongue and I feel pretty confident that I can both speak and write to a high, consistent level with minimal errors. I certainly take pride in the fact that I can use their, there and they're appropriately (and the same for its / it's / its' - SERIOUSLY, IT'S NOT THAT HARD). The plague of hyphens slowly infesting written British English is a particular bugbear too... Hyphen-this, intersected-that! Unnecessary and illogical in some cases.

      The old gem I always wheel out in these situations is a crudely handwritten sign outside the village where I grew up: "TRACTOR,S TURNING"

      Mine's the one with the Oxford Super Compact Pico Pocket English Dictionary in it

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge


        .. you too shall eventually succumb to the "teh" problem as your word processor (be it MS Office, OpenOffice or now even the Apple autocorrect in Lion and anything iOS) is busy ramming that into your muscle memory with unrelenting force. You can thank Microsoft for that.

        Eats, shoots, and leaves.

      2. nyelvmark

        I'd be interested to hear about the correct use of


        Are you sure you aren't missing a T?

        1. BorkedAgain


          Shouldn't that be "their"?

  15. Richard Jukes


    BBC grammar standards have been falling for quite some time. It is not often that I read a BBC article without incorrect grammar.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "speaking cock turns 75" must be a mistake

    They don't live that long, do they?

    1. Pooka

      Token NotW reply....

      I dunno..... ol' Rupie Murdoch is 80 or so.....

    2. Magnus_Pym

      Clarity boy, clarity.

      "BBC grammar standards have been falling for quite some time. It is not often that I read a BBC article without incorrect grammar."

      Opinion stated as fact, too many clauses for clarity of meaning, reversing negatives. 5/10. see me.

      In my opinion, standards of grammar at the BBC have been falling for some time. The BBC articles that I have read often contain grammatical errors.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Standards in the BBC

    As somebody who works within the proofreading and editing industry, I must say that I've seen a dramatic increase in the sloppiness of the BBC's online articles in the last few years. Typos, poorly structured sentences, and occasional factual inconsistencies. For an institution that was once the pride not only of Britain but also of the media industry as a whole, the BBC these days is a shameful thing that I stopped being proud of quite some time ago. Pull your act together. I understand that there is time pressure and live posting of articles, and that many of the errors (cock/clock) won't be caught by any automatic process, but really, how hard can it be to hire somebody to give each article a quick once-over or even just (in many cases) run a simple spell-check before posting?

  18. Moz
    Paris Hilton

    Speaking Cock

    Speaking Cock?? Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, "At the third stroke..."

    Paris, because... oh, it's cocks, isn't it?

    1. Flugal

      For the answer...

      Read Flat Earth News by Nick Davies.

    2. Red Bren

      Hiring at the BBC

      "how hard can it be to hire somebody to give each article a quick once-over or even just (in many cases) run a simple spell-check before posting?"

      It is quite hard, when the response would be:

      "The BBC are wasting MY hard-earned licence fee (Telly Tax more like!!!) to hire pointless pencil pushers who do NOTHING all day accept looking at the Internet! You could sack half the BBC and no one would notice. And the civil service. Put them all on the dole and the average hard working family could save a fortune! As for these benefit scroungers, why don't they get jobs? We should take their dole money off them and the average hard working family could save a fortune! And why are there so many homeless these days? It's bringing down the property prices of hard working families..."

      Or something like that. At the third stroke, the time sponsored by Black Sheep* is Pub O'Clock.

      * Other beverages are available.

    3. Colin Miller

      The folly of relying on spellcheckers

      However a speller thinks this bit of doggerel is correct. (Why does ElReg insist on replacing all line breaks with an empty line?)

      Eye halve a spelling chequer;

      It came with my pea sea.

      It plane lee marques four my revue

      Miss stakes eye kin knot sea.

      Eye strike a key and type a word

      And weight four it two say

      Weather eye am wrong or write;

      It shows me strait a weigh.

      As soon as a mist ache is maid,

      It nose bee fore two long;

      And eye can put the error rite--

      Its rare lea ever wrong.

      Eye have run this poem threw it

      Eye am shore your pleased two no;

      Its letter perfect awl the weigh

      My chequer tolled me sew.


  19. Gert Selkobi
    Thumb Up

    Re: Guten Tag

    Good work!

  20. Mark Errington

    I bit of a clock up then?

    'nuf said

  21. Zot

    Spelling checkers are not grammar checkers

    I think there's a problem with being too reliant on spelling checkers. These errors all pass a spell check, so they don't even bother to check by eye for grammatical problems.

    I heard a guy on BBC 4 a few days ago talking about the 'atrocious lack of English pronounciation' around today. Oh dear.

    1. Michael Dunn

      @Spellcheckers are not grammar checkers

      Nor semantics checkers.

  22. Jacqui

    I expect they are all

    terrified that their names/roles are going to appear in someones pocketbook and monies tracked back to them.

    I do not see much difference between the BBC and NOTW - they are both red tops and they both have agenda's to push.

    1. CADmonkey

      OOh! Me too! Me too a grammer nazi too!

      Shirley, "they both have agenda to push." as "agenda" is already plural? (Thank you, yes minister)

      At least it wasn't 'paninis'

      1. frank ly Silver badge

        re. agenda

        agendum: that which is to be done.

        agenda: those which are to be done.

        Try using the word 'agendum' in a meeting, see who understands you :)

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Caption - This cock-up arrived just minutes after the first.

    Shouldn't that be "This clock-up arrived..."?

  24. ByeLaw101


    The Register pulls the BBC up on .... Grammer and spelling :)

    LOL, didn't see that one coming.

    People in glass houses.........

  25. s. pam

    Do you really expect us to swallow this story?

    On a Friday!

    I'm all choked up now!

  26. james the l

    Headline to make you double-take

    My favourite I saw a few years ago on the Beeb website:

    "Worker suspended over missing body."

    Brought to mind all sorts of existential ideas as to how to achieve this. Turns out a body had gone missing from a morgue, and a worker had been... you get it now.

    Still, had me going for a bit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Headline to make you double-take

      One not from the BBC, but about it, caused some confusion amongst my Septic colleagues, when the Gulf News announced on its front page:

      "BBC Chief Dyke Resigns"

      Turned out to be that Gregory Dyke had quit his post as Director-General of the BBC.

    2. Michael Dunn

      @ "Worker suspended over missing body."

      New keyboard, please!

  27. Richard Porter

    OTHER news you might have missed?

    Never mind the attrocious grammar, how could anyone possibly have missed the news about phone hacking? In any case it was voicemail hacking.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not only that, it was hardly "hacking"

      It's bad enough that "hacking" is used instead of "cracking", but even that still used to imply a modicum of skill. This voicemail hacking was anything but. No 3 strikes lockout, no log files to avoid - nothing. Just dull "let's try the next number" after starting with the service defaults. Yawn.

      Besides, anyone with a VoIP setup doesn't even need to bother with PIN codes. Set caller ID to target phone, then call voicebox number. As long as it's inland you go straight in.

      We've been sorting this problem for our clients since 2009 or so. It's not even hard to fix..

      Note to self: find and kill OSX Lion autocorrect before I stab the screen with a pen.

      1. Michael Dunn

        @ AC

        "Note to self: find and kill OSX Lion autocorrect before I stab the screen with a pen."

        I am sure you can get black Tippex for computer screens.

  28. SakuraNoSeirei

    Simple explanation

    It's simple to explain. The BBC spent so much time reading the Granuid to keep up with the story that they caught Guardianitis.

  29. Doug Glass

    Marginally educated ...

    ... basement dwelling pseudo journalist opinion pushing bloggers.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Correct English?

    The BBC has not spoken or written it for a long, long time. Dumbing down is the order of the day. Correct grammar? Oh dear no, some-one might think we're upper-middle-class

  31. Martin Maloney

    @ Fred Flintsone

    A truly diabolical All/April Fools/Fool's Day prank is to add a line to the end of the auto-correct file, so that "the" is "corrected" to "teh."

    The result is that, regardless of whether the victim types "the" or "teh," he always ends up with "teh."

    Adding to the mayhem is that co-workers and tech support flunkies are unlikely to be familiar with this gotcha!

  32. Martin Maloney

    @ Red Bren

    "The BBC are wasting MY hard-earned licence fee (Telly Tax more like!!!) to hire pointless pencil pushers who do NOTHING all day accept looking at the Internet!..."

    "The BBC is," perhaps?

    "...pointless pencil pushers..." Aren't there any pencil sharpeners in the BBC offices?

    "...who do NOTHING all day accept looking at the Internet!..." This gaffe was truly exceptional!

  33. Magnus_Pym

    @Red Bren

    Are you really David Cameron?

  34. Red Bren

    @Martin Maloney & @ Magnus_Pym

    @Martin - this was my apparently feeble attempt to emulate the rantings of a rabid, anti-BBC type, on hearing that the BBC might employ someone to do something other than the direct making of TV shows. I was quite pleased with the "pointless pencil pushers" pun...

    @Magnus - I've been accused of many things but that really hurts...

    Me=Fail because I had to explain it.

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