BBC newsreader Peter Sissons was told not to mention that the Queen Mother was usually hammered.
In his memoirs Sissons reveals that when Queen Elizabeth died in 2002 corporation chiefs said he should be suitably reverential without going over the top but should probably not use phrases such as ‘gin soaked’ and ‘drunken gambler’.
Writing in This is the Sissons, he said: “I was pulled to one side and told I should keep it fairly light, given that she was 132 or something, but at the same time I shouldn’t open with ‘Britain’s most notorious alcoholic…’.
“I was slightly uncomfortable as I felt we could only truly reflect the mood of the nation if the backdrop was a load of empty Gordon’s bottles or the dear old thing half-pissed and trying to clamber onto a horse.
“In the event I just said, ‘Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother has passed away at the age of such and such – if you would like to find out more please check the BBC website’.”
A BBC spokesman said: “At the time we felt that we should limit the coverage to the nice things about the Queen Mother – how much she liked dogs and how she won the war using her lovely hats – rather than getting in too deep and risk opening a larder that was stacked floor to ceiling with large cans of meaty worms.
“Did someone say ‘anti-Semitism’? I don’t know why you’re looking at me, I said ‘collapsing Derby horse’.”
Sissons added: “They also asked me to put on a shirt and tie which was lucky because I was about to go on air wearing a t-shirt that just said ‘flaps’.”