BBC viewers were stunned when Joan Bakewell appeared to admit to flouting the coronavirus lockdown rules live on The One Show.
The veteran presenter, 87, was on last night (Wednesday, April 29) to chat with hosts Alex Jones and Amol Rajan about the lockdown format of her show, Portrait Artist of the Year.
She explained that she was in day fifty of her own self-isolation at home, and Alex asked how she was coping.
"Are you doing okay, though?" Alex said. "That is a really long time."
Joan told her: "It is a long time. I keep myself very busy. I keep my exercised. I'm reading quite a lot.
What did Joan say?
"I do have a garden so I can have a friend in to have a cup of coffee in the garden, as long as they stay well away. That's my social life."
She continued: "I'm doing more cooking than I have in a long time. But I'm also engaging with journalists and writing things, so I'm not cut off.
"Much of my life is sitting here, writing. So it's not too bad for me. It's much worse for other people."
Reacting on Twitter, some viewers thought what Joan said she does amounted the breaking the government's rules on social distancing.
One tweeted: "#TheOneShow, hi just saying the lady who was on your show tonight and said she has a garden so can have friends or a friend over as long as they stay two metres away is wrong on the rules? I hope you let her know that's not allowed?"
Another said: "#TheOneShow Joan Bakewell is allowed to have friends in the garden during lockdown? Really? We're not!!"
I hope you let her know that's not allowed?
A third wrote: "Not sure you're supposed to have friends round to sit in the garden, Joan Bakewell lol #TheOneShow #lockdown."
"Did Joan Bakewell just admit to not following the guidelines?" asked someone else. "Saying she has a friend over and they chill in the garden? #TheOneShow I might have misheard."
A fifth tweeted: "@BBCTheOneShow you need to be telling viewers, 'Having tea with a friend in your garden' is NOT following the guidelines!"
"Cannot believe that woman has a friend round for coffee," said another. "I might as well go and sit with my 91-year-old grandmother, then?"
Is it against the rules?
ED! contacted the BBC for comment.
But one viewer didn't seem to think it was an issue. They said: "Depends on the the size of your garden! If it's ok to queue next to someone two metres away, you can chat to a friend in your garden three metres away!"
@BBCTheOneShow You need to be telling viewers ‘Having tea with a friend in your garden’ is NOT following the guidelines!!!!
— Annie loves Teddy (@munchkin_teddy) April 29, 2020
Depends on the the size of your garden! If it’s ok to queue next to someone 2 mtrs away you can chat to a friend in your garden 3 metres away!!!
— choppo (@cheezypete) April 29, 2020
According to Dr Jenna Macciochi, immunologist at the University of Sussex, a garden meet-up likely carries the same risk of transmitting or catching COVID-19 as going to the supermarket.
If two people in a garden remained more than two metres apart, their meeting wouldn't necessarily increase the likelihood of infection, she told Huff Post UK.
But she warned that being in familiar settings could lead to people becoming too relaxed - and inadvertently catching or passing on coronavirus. She added: "What it does do is cultivate a culture of it being 'ok' to bend the rules or capitalise on grey areas."
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