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‘This is so ridiculous that people won’t believe it, and will make a joke of it…’

During 23 years with the BBC, and 40 years in journalism, for our Editor Welshman Phil Parry humour has rarely been far from the surface, and this is now underlined by the huge number of jokes on the internet about Vladimir Putin’s ‘election’ when he supposedly ‘won’ 87 per cent of the vote. 

Earlier Phil has described how he was helped to break into the South Wales Echo office car when he was a cub reporter, recalled his early career as a journalist, the importance of experience in the job, and making clear that the ‘calls’ to emergency services as well as court cases are central to any media operation.

He has also explored how poorly paid most journalism is when trainee reporters had to live in squalid flats, the vital role of expenses, and about one of his most important stories on the now-scrapped 53 year-old BBC Wales TV Current Affairs series, Week In Week Out (WIWO), which won an award even after it was axed, long after his career really took off

Phil has explained too how crucial it is actually to speak to people, the virtue of speed as well as accuracy, why knowledge of history and teaching the subject is vital, how certain material was removed from TV Current Affairs programmes when secret cameras had to be used, and some of those he has interviewed.


He has disclosed as well why investigative journalism is needed now more than ever although others have different opinions, how the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown played havoc with media schedules, and the importance of the hugely lower average age of some political leaders compared with when he started reporting. 


As the hoary old cliché goes – you couldn’t make this up!

Protesters are kept an eye on in Russia – so they must resort to humour

The incumbent leader of Russia Vladimir Putin claimed victory with 87 per cent of the vote in the presidential election – the highest such percentage in post-Soviet Russia

Mr Putin has now gained a fifth term in office, and is likely to stay in power until at least 2030 – the longest-serving Kremlin leader since Joseph Stalin.

But this ‘election’ has been condemned by world leaders as totally false, and the absurdity of it all has been highlighted with humour.

Since the ‘election’ there has been an enormous upsurge in jokes about it – some anonymous, and some from commentators outside Russia.

The situation in Russia is so awful, the best thing is to make a joke about it!

For example one goes like this:

“One of Putin’s ministers came to see him, and said:
‘Sir, I have good news and bad news.’
Putin sighed and declared: ‘Tell me the bad news.’
The minister replied: ‘The bad news is that no-one voted for you in the election.’
On hearing this Putin stood, his face flushed with anger: ‘Well, what’s the good news?!’
The minister cowered before answering: ‘You won anyway!’“.

It seems to me that one of the best ways to draw attention to the ridiculousness of this situation is through laughter, and it has also made me recall the many funny moments in my career.

For instance one of them happened when I was presenting a live or as-live debate programme on BBC Cymru Radio Wales (RW) called The People’s Assembly (PA).

Things happened in broadcasting that wouldn’t be believed..

It was always a problem securing an audience for it, so I would often be at the front door ushering people in before they had a chance to get cold feet.

On this occasion I was stationed at the top of a flight of stairs, with a Weight Watchers’ class one way, and PA the other.

I always proclaimed hopefully to anybody coming: “People’s Assembly?”. However the reply was invariably: “Weight Watchers…”.


I was then approached by an extremely large lady, and to my eternal shame I said disconsolately: “Weight Watchers is that way…”.

But I was met with the angry response: “I WANT THE PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY. I AM THE PARTY AGENT FOR THIS AREA!”.

Another was when I was presenting the RW drive time programme Good Evening Wales (GEW).

Everybody knows each other on air, except they don’t…

You had to pretend you knew all the other presenters who came into the studio, so you would introduce them by name, but, frankly, there were so many of them you often didn’t know who they were.

Once when a sports reporter came in to do his bit, I simply didn’t know who it was, but the mikes were ‘live’ which meant that anything that was said would go out on air.

I had to resort to scribbling my question down on a bit of paper, and holding it up: “WHO ARE YOU?”.

Even then I thought how stupid and ridiculous this was. Not as ridiculous, though, as Mr Putin claiming he won a landslide victory in an election that was a complete sham…


The memories of Phil’s decades-long award-winning career in journalism (including some of the unlikely situations he has been in as a reporter) as he was gripped by the rare disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now!

Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.

Tomorrow – how the blocking on social media by controversial Welsh independence organisation YesCymru (YC) of a group supporting Wales as part of the United Kingdom (UK), highlights the fact that The Eye have shown how an unbelievable civil war has been underway in its ranks.