BBC health and safety bosses ban aliens
Professor Brian Cox says BBC bosses banned him from listening to a distant planet on live TV - in case aliens breached editorial guidelines.
His BBC2 show, Stargazing Live, featured a planet called Threapleton Holmes B, recently discovered by two amateur astronomers.
But Prof Cox said the idea of listening to the new planet live on air was blocked by BBC health and safety regulations.
He told BBC 6 Music radio: "The BBC actually said, 'But you can't do that because we need to go through the regulations and health and safety and everything in case we discover a signal from an alien civilisation'.
"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."
Breakfast host Shaun Keaveny added: "The idea that intelligent life could be discovered and it might swear and that's why we wouldn't broadcast it - it's such a brilliant BBC thing, isn't it."
Prof Cox also told of another bizarre run-in with BBC managers while making Stargazing Live.
He said: "We were thinking of looking for signs of geological activity which might point to life on Mars.
"Someone from the BBC said to me, 'Would there have to be a prize if someone discovered it?'.
"You're going to say to someone, you discovered the first evidence for alien life beyond Earth - and here's a book voucher as well?"