The most despicable character ever written

It seems that any group of activists can get their mates to email the BBC, and the corporation will

Here's a story about the craven editorial judgements of the post-Hutton BBC that in its own small way is shocking. A month ago, I spent a long evening recording a programme which the producer said, in true Alan Partridge style, was to be "the jewel in the crown" of Radio 5 Live's Christmas schedule. It was a knockabout current affairs show called Fighting Talk in which two comedians and two serious media figures, including myself and Kelvin MacKenzie (you can decide which category we fell into), discussed the year's events. I quickly realised I had misjudged the tone. The first topic was Iraq. The floor was mine. I gave a measured answer in the manner of the Today programme. Kelvin was next up. "I think we should turn it into a big Ikea," he blustered. "It's got four letters, it begins with I, there's plenty of room for parking, and the only problem is that as soon as you start putting the country together again, there'll always be a piece missing."

It would not have had Lord Reith bursting with pride, but thanks largely to Kelvin's well-practised controversialism, it was a mildly diverting hour of radio. It was scheduled for 7pm on Christmas Eve and was heavily trailed in the preceding days. I switched on at the appointed time. But instead of Kelvin's reflections on global warming - can you believe he thinks it's all exaggerated? - we got a lame, supposedly comic, programme about Premiership footballers and their wives. There was no announcement that the schedule had been altered, even less an explanation of why the nation was to be deprived of my witty aperçus on Patricia Hewitt.

I texted Richard Bacon, the presenter. He replied thus: "After Kelvin's inflammatory comments about Hillsborough, 5 Live received a petition of 700 signatories asking for him not to be put on air." He had that week defended his well-known opinion that the Hillsborough disaster was caused by Liverpool fans, but it's not as if this subject was even discussed on our programme. Kelvin may have unfortunate views in a number of areas, Hillsborough being one of them, but who's to say he doesn't have a right to air them? It seems that any group of activists can get their mates to email the BBC, and the corporation will oblige them with terrified self-censorship. I'm now thinking of doing the same next time I hear that Sir Andrew Green, with his repellent views on immigration, is slated to appear on Today. Or David Irving. How ironic that the BBC has turned Kelvin MacKenzie into a martyr. Free the Hillsborough One!

Studied insouciance

I once sat next to Bill Clinton at lunch; I have met Nelson Mandela; and Bono took my chair to guest edit the Independent last year. We editors lead privileged lives, and it's easy to become blasé about encountering the powerful and famous. But on Christmas Day, I had to put any studied insouciance aside when I met my comic hero, Larry David, creator of Seinfeld and star of the peerless Curb Your Enthusiasm. David, at the age of 59, was making his first visit to Britain and was having Christmas lunch with a friend of mine. In Curb Your Enthusiasm, he plays a hapless curmudgeon whose habit of speaking his mind turns the most promising situation into, as he would say, a great big bowl of wrong. David has said this is the man he would like to be in real life.

Disappointingly, he was charm itself. We discussed our interest in golf, but he couldn't be tempted ("no Jewish man plays golf in temperatures less than 60°F"). He agreed to phone a message to my duty editor ("I see your Jewboy boss has got you working on Christmas Day") and posed for a picture with my dog. Sometimes you shouldn't meet your heroes, I thought. As I left, he told me he's going to write into the series he's filming someone called Kelner. As I pondered my comic immortality, he called after me: "He's going to be the most despicable character I've ever written."

Justice for some

On the same day that Saddam Hussein, who grossly exaggerated the weapons capacity of Iraq, was executed, John Scarlett, who also exaggerated the weapons capacity of Iraq, was knighted. How dare they talk about victor's justice.

Simon Kelner is editor of the Independent