BBC suspends pundit for describing Accrington Stanley vs Lincoln City scuffle as 'handbags'

  • Kobe Tong

The BBC have suspended a football pundit for using the word ‘handbags’ to describe a scuffle between players, according to a report from The Sun.

Steve “Tommo” Thompson is said to have been temporarily relieved of his duties after listeners complained about the use of the phrase during a League One match last weekend.

The former Lincoln City manager and player was speaking on BBC Radio Lincolnshire as the Imps claimed a point away at Accrington Stanley in a 0-0 draw.

Thompson suspended by BBC

The phrase that drew complaints is defined by the Collins Dictionary as “an incident in which people, ­especially sportsmen, fight or threaten to fight, but without real intent to inflict harm”.

Thompson, 65, is said to be ‘devastated’ with the BBC’s decision.

Nevertheless, there are supporters who are campaigning for Thompson to return to his post with Lincoln fan Bernard ­O’Mahoney suggesting that the corporation has lost touch with its audience.


Fans come to his defence

“As any football fan knows, ‘handbags’ is an incredibly well-known saying,” the Imps fan said. “I can’t begin to think who’d be offended by it. The BBC has lost touch with the public.”

Fellow supporter Marcus Greatorex added: “It’s just an old term. The BBC should pay more attention to songs on their stations promoting knife crime and drug use.”

The BBC said of the matter: “After listeners raised concerns, Steve acknowledged some of his comments on air didn’t meet the standards we expect. He is taking a break but will be back in the New Year.”


The Sun criticise the BBC

The Sun newspaper themselves gave a scathing verdict of the decision, hyperbolically claiming that the BBC are in ‘the grip of “woke” madness’ and have scored an ‘own-goal’ with the suspension.

“The BBC has been in the grip of “woke” madness longer than almost anyone. But dropping a footy pundit for calling an ineffectual on-pitch scuffle “handbags” is a new level of foolishness.

“Who exactly is offended by this term, so common it’s in the dictionary? No one outside the imagination of hyper-sensitive producers.

“The BBC is growing more distant by the day from the public whose licence fees it needs. It’s one own-goal after another.”


Whether or not you think a suspension is justified and the phrase is archaic, to query who could possibly be offended by the comment when listeners complained quite literally makes no sense.

Regardless of the minutia of this particular incident, there should always be an open discussion on aspects of the English lexicon and its etymology in regards to gender politics and equality.

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