Laurie Taylor Column

January 9, 2004

TOP DON IN HONOURS SHOCK

The world of academe was reeling last night at the shock news that Professor Gordon Lapping had not featured in the new year honours list.

In an exclusive interview with the Poppleton Evening News , Professor Lapping described himself as "devastated and outraged" by the omission.

Not even a miserable MBE

"Quite frankly," he told our reporter, "I had been anticipating a knighthood for my 30 years of service to cultural studies. So you can imagine the shock when my name did not appear in the list of the truly honoured. But this was compounded when I realised that I was not even included in the long list of academic MBEs and OBEs, even though both categories contained people whose contribution to higher education was less than marginal."

Political pressure

Professor Lapping ascribed his omission to "political pressures". He believed his name did not go forward because of the controversial reputation of his research into British television viewing habits. This research required human subjects to sit for up to three hours at a time watching successive editions of such "popular" programmes as Relocation, Relocation , Tonight with Trevor McDonald , Crimewatch and Top Gear .

Horror research

The research achieved notoriety last year when a group of experimental subjects successfully tunnelled their way out of Professor Lapping's laboratory and sold their stories of "sensory deprivation" to the press.

Professor Lapping has always claimed that his work contributes to the development of better television, but critics claim that the use of human subjects in such experiments is "cruel and unusual" and that they could readily be replaced by beagles.

Poppleton triumph

There was, however, some consolation for Poppleton University. Its vice-chancellor was awarded a CBE for "services to creative accountancy".

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