Letter to the BBC.  I received a signed reply from Nicholas Witchell.

     To the Director of News Broadcasting,

    BBC Television:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    On Wednesday 12 July on the Six O’Clock News (BBC 1) Nicholas Witchell reported on an incident that had taken place in the neighbourhood of Besançon. I realise that the days of the correct pronunciation of foreign names (on which the BBC used to pride itself) are long gone. I recognise also that the cedilla may be an unfathomable mystery for a highly-paid announcer. What I was quite unprepared for was hearing the town’s name pronounced as ‘Baise Un Con’.

    I would shudder to set out in full the English translation of this French phrase, but the enormity of it may perhaps be rendered as ‘F*** A C***’. At the present season there are, of course, large numbers of  French-speaking visitors in our country. Many of them will watch BBC television, knowing of the Corporation’s long and honourable history. I can only speculate as to what their reaction may have been on hearing such a gross obscenity issuing from the screen.

    As we approach 1992 we are constantly exhorted to make ourselves more sensitive to links with Europe. Surely a starting-point would be for a major national institution to avoid grotesque solecisms of this order.

    Yours faithfully,

    Ian H Birchall, MA, BLitt (Oxon),

    Senior Lecturer in French,

    Middlesex Polytechnic