The response to the BBC coverage of the www.honestylab.com project was overwhelming. In the hour it took me to get back home from the studio, around 2,500 people had taken the test and that day around 7,000 participants in all had given their own verdicts on the scenarios. We were concerned that the website might not stand up to the traffic – over 900,000 hits on the site that day – but the team from our designers www.savageandgray.co.uk had done us proud and all seemed to be well. We did get some interesting emails from the public about the site and the project which was heartening – part of the idea behind the project was to raise awareness of the difficulties in defining dishonesty – and we certainly seem to have sparked some debate in a number of households. Someone described it as a ‘massive online game of Scruples’ which was pretty accurate although it does lose some of the serious legal issues on the way.
Another difficulty is that of seeing famous people out of context. Maureen Lipman, for instance, is, for me at least, that woman off the BT adverts whose grandson (Anthony, I think) managed to pass his sociology exam. Not someone sitting opposite me on a sofa in the early hours of the morning. ‘An ‘ology’, he’s got an ‘ology’ and he says he’s failed. You’re a scientist.’ Kind of appropriate, really, what with the British Science Association and everything. So doing criminology makes me a scientist. That’s good. (I do have a degree in Natural Sciences as well, which helps). It is with this bleary-eyed logic, that I owe an apology to Dick Clement, OBE, writer with Ian La Frenais of The Likely Lads, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, the truly wonderful Porridge and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. He’s doing Porridge on stage, with Barry out of Eastenders (or Shaun Williamson, if you prefer) as Norman Stanley Fletcher. He’s the one that I thought was Michael Aspel.
Having insulted one of the greatest British comedy writers ever with a single text message to Sue, all that remained for that day was to be interviewed by BBC Radio a lot. You can sympathise with Britney Spears who confused Manchester with London – when you’re essentially repeating the same thing, you kind of lose track of who you’re talking to. This could easily have happened:
Stef: …so we’re asking the good people of Ulster to participate in the test.
DJ: This is BBC Exeter.
Stef: …sorry, did I say Leeds? I meant Devon.
[fade to Take On Me by A-Ha]
But thankfully it didn’t.
So, time to start preparing for the Festival. Only another 14,000 responses to read… but there’s still time to increase our workload: visit www.honestylab.com