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ALIEN DETECTION was SUPPRESSED by the BBC - top boffin

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The BBC tried to put the kibosh on rock-star physicist Brian Cox's plan to eavesdrop on a planet with a radio telescope - because the corporation was apparently afraid the discovery of alien life could violate the Beeb's editorial guidelines.

Perhaps Auntie feared the little green men, if found, would drop a very large swear bomb during a live broadcast of the space experiment.

Prof Cox, who fronts TV show Stargazing Live, told Shaun Keaveny on BBC's 6 Music breakfast programme that he was perplexed by the broadcaster's fixation with "regulations and health and safety".

The science star wanted to detect signals from the planet Threapleton Holmes B when it was discovered by the TV show's viewers. But the idea of earwigging the celestial body live on telly sent waves of panic through the ranks of BBC producers, who apparently told Cox: "You can't do that."

"The BBC actually said: you can't do that. We need to go through the regulations and health and safety and everything, in case we discover a signal from an alien civilisation," Prof Cox told 6 Music listeners this week.

"[I replied] you mean we would discover the first hint that there is other intelligent life in the universe beyond Earth, live on air, and you're worried about the health and safety of it? It was incredible."

Suffice to say, the BBC needn't have worried - unless of course Prof Cox was pointing a radio telescope at a planet full of Shaun Ryder aliens. ®

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