What if aliens really do exist?

The thought itself is too much for BBC bosses to handle.

The media behemoth shut down a TV presenter's plan to point a radio telescope at a newly-discovered planet over fears aliens might answer back.

Professor Brian Cox said the BBC was concerned the experiment, to be staged live on air during his show Stargazing Life, broke the corporation's health and safety rules.


"We decided that we'd point the Jodrell Bank telescope at the planet (Threapleton Holmes B) that had been discovered by these two viewers (in January) and listen because no one had ever pointed a radio telescope at it and you never know,'' Mr Cox said on BBC 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'."

"(I said), '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. They did have guidelines. Compliance."