BBC Three Counties presenter apologises for Twitter rant after Herts Ad panto review

Ernie Almond (far left) with the cast of pantomime Dick Whittington in Harpenden

Ernie Almond (far left) with the cast of pantomime Dick Whittington in Harpenden - Credit: Act One Pantomimes

A BBC Three Counties presenter has publicly apologised for a furious Twitter tirade after a radio colleague was criticised for his performance in Harpenden’s Christmas panto.

Ernie Almond played the Sultan of Morocco in Act One Pantomines’ production of Dick Whittington at the town’s Public Halls, his latest role in a long run of appearances.

But when Herts Ad group editor Matt Adams reviewed the show, he suggested Ernie should take a break this year, as his performance “seemed forced and flat, lacking any real charm”.

The comments provoked a late night Twitterstorm from shock jock Jonathan Vernon-Smith, who presents 3CR’s JVS Show, after he tweeted: “What a shame Matt Adams has felt it necessary to be so unkind to my dear friend @Erniestheatre in his amateurish little review of the Harpenden panto. Ernie is a much loved and seasoned pro and deserves respect. The 3CR family do not respond well to bile!”

Matt responded: “I’m sorry the 3CR team can’t take criticism. I stand by my review, especially as I’ve seen him do much better in previous years.”

Ernie Almond.

Ernie Almond. - Credit: Archant

But Jonathan hit back: “That man has done and achieved more in his life than you could ever hope to. How dare you belittle and embarrass him. I will never forget this!

“It’s a pantomime that Ernie loves doing. He gives his all and looks forward to it. You have been rude, unkind and disrespectful when you probably have never set foot on a stage in your life. I think that deserves calling out!

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“Don’t expect to be a nasty, unkind ageist without being being challenged.”

Matt, who has reviewed the Harpenden panto for several years, subsequently contacted the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit, who this week upheld his case, and Mr Vernon-Smith issued a public apology on his Twitter account.

A statement from the BBC said: “Because the tweets were posted on a BBC account, their content was subject to the BBC’s editorial standards. In the view of the Executive Complaints Unit, the tweets, which used terms such as “vile”, “nasty”, “ageist” and “rude”, were certainly offensive, and entirely unwarranted by the temperate terms in which Mr Adams had couched his criticism (as well as being an inappropriate use of a BBC account to pursue a primarily personal concern).

“Although the original tweets had been removed by the time Mr Adams complained to the Unit, repetitions of some of them in the “tweets and comments” section of the site had unfortunately been overlooked, so material which certainly breached the BBC’s editorial standards remained extant.

“Mr Vernon-Smith has been reminded of his responsibilities in relation to the use of social media, and an apology to Mr Adams has been posted on the Twitter account.”

Matt added: “I am pleased with the resolution to this matter. I felt my original review was very fair and certainly didn’t warrant the level of abuse I received from Mr Vernon-Smith.

“It’s all very well defending a friend and colleague, but I felt the comments on Twitter crossed the line.”