James Whale (born 13 May 1951) gained national prominence in the late 1980s with The James Whale Radio Show, a late-night programme produced by Yorkshire Television for ITV. In 1995, he hosted The James Whale Show on TalkSport until he was sacked in 2008. He presented on Bid TV before returning to the airwaves on LBC in London. In September 2013, he brought back The James Whale Radio Show, and began covering shows on TalkRadio in October 2016. He started presenting the Monday to Thursday evening show between 19:00 and 22:00 on 7 November 2016. A fortnight after the new manifestation of James Whale on TalkRadio, our story begins. Or, rather, ends.
Whale, who has often stated his admiration for Margaret Thatcher, is an atheist who loathes religion, particularly Christianity. In February 2002, he interviewed Seán Manchester, which resulted in hundreds of complaints from listeners due to Whale's treatment of the bishop who made his own complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Commission. His complaint was upheld by the BSC.
Not all that long before interviewing Seán Manchester, and unknown to the bishop at the time, Whale interviewed David Farrant and, therefore, had been primed. This was transparent when he came to talk to the bishop who mentioned "Ferrell" (an American youngster who had murdered people while claiming to be a vampire). James Whale reacted to the name as if "Farrant" had been uttered, and literally jumped in his seat. "Who?" he almost shouted. The truth is that Seán Manchester has not mentioned David Farrant in an interview on radio or television since 13 March 1970, and only then once to warn the charlatan to not go ahead with his planned nocturnal sojourn in Highgate Cemetery.
A stream of snide and negative comments have been forthcoming from James Whale whenever Seán Manchester's name has been mentioned down the years, and this is largely due to whatever Farrant misinformed him, but also because the radio presenter dislikes clergy. It certainly could not have sat well with Whale that, after his sacking from TalkSport, the bishop was invited back to discuss the supernatural in an interview that went extremely well where he was warmly received.
Then came the call from someone on Whale's recent show on TalkRadio where erroneous attributions and claims were made. Whale's co-presenter remembered that there had been a complaint made by Seán Manchester and that the bishop had won. James Whale completely denied that this had happened, and did so in a published sentence, which he repeated: "No, he did not! No, he did not!"
Seán Manchester wrote to Dennie Morris, the Station Editor at TalkRadio, but promptly had his email referred to Alice Furse, the Listener Response Officer who responded on 25 November 2016:
"We’ve listened back to the audio and note that the co-presenter made it clear that your 2002 complaint was upheld. Furthermore at no point was it claimed during the brief exchange on last night’s programme that you are not a Bishop. Therefore at this stage we’re unclear as to why it is that you feel that an apology is required. Perhaps you can clarify this matter further so that we can ensure that we have addressed your complaint properly."
Seán Manchester clarified the nature of his complaint:
"The co-presenter said he thought I complained and that my complaint was upheld. James Whale, whose show it is (and as far as the listener is concerned would know the facts), categorically refuted any suggestion that I had complained or that my complaint was upheld.
"James Whale repeatedly said: 'No, he did not; no, he did not.' This left the listener with a completely false impression about what really happened. Mr Whale knew the truth, and was quite obviously lying to my detriment.
"It was claimed by the caller that I was not a Catholic bishop. I am. The caller also attributed the statement 'take that lie from your mouth' to me. I said nothing of the kind to Mr Whale on the occasion of our interview in February 2002. I was civil and courteous throughout."
Seán Manchester heard nothing further from TalkRadio. The listeners were obviously aware of James Whale's denial. That is what will stick in their minds.
History once again comes to be rewritten by those who determine what we hear and what we know.