“It was a bit like playing with your legs tied together. The BBC is the national broadcaster and I get that, but they are frightened to death of upsetting anybody.”
Lawrenson recalls one occasion in 1997 when he noticed a change in how the BBC were behaving. He was commentating on a Bradford City match soon after the death of Princess Diana, and alleges that he was told not to mention the word ‘wall’ at a free-kick following the crash involving the popular royal.
“The editor of the programme came over on the cans and said, ‘Any free kicks around the penalty area tonight, please don’t mention the wall. I don’t remember who I was commentating with, but I asked him, ‘Is that for real?’ and he said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s for real,’” Lawrenson continued.
“You are working with editors who are probably in their mid-20s. You can talk in between the bits that are on TV at the time and you can have a joke about something and they’ll say, ‘Don’t say that.’ And I am thinking, ‘I’ve been here for 20-odd years, I think I might know what to say and what not to say.’ ”