When I worked for Yahoo!, I occasionally had to do radio interviews and very often a press officer would accompany m e. She was very nice and efficient and made sure I got where I needed to be in time and knew what I would be asked about. However, she insisted on scribbling notes on a large piece of card and waving them at me during the interview to remind me to say, or not say, one thing or another. It was extremely distracting, to say the least.
But she didn't go as far as the government press officer for James Plaskitt, the work and pensions minister, who intervened in a live interview on BBC World at One today to warn the presenter off his line of questioning, as Iain Dale reports, via PA.
This seems to me to be exceeding the press officer's brief, to say the least, and I can only assume that she thought the interview was being pre-recorded. As did John Prescott, some years ago, when being interviewed by Nick Robinson, who recounted the story on the Have I Got News For You website.
"When I was a reporter on what used to be called BBC News 24 I did a live interview with John Prescott in which he (uncharacteristically of course) got into a tangle about what he was trying to say and then said, ‘Oh no, I made that crap can we do that again?’ and I was forced to say, ‘Well, we are in fact live’."