The great cockney palaeontologist "Cocker" Leakey, often described as the David Attenborough of the bone world, has been off our television screens for a year or two, so younger readers may not be familiar with his pioneering work in the field of human origins. It was "Cocker" Leakey, for instance, who put forward the revolutionary theory that early man was an avid football fan and that all those transcontinental migrations were not caused by advancing ice caps but by travelling to away matches.
It was Cocker's research in prehistoric caves, with their attendant wall paintings and detritus, that revealed these caves to be primitive all- night clubs, and early man to be an inveterate raver.
And it was "Cocker" Leakey who finally solved the mystery of the missing continent of Atlantis by showing that it was a fictional off- shore tax haven invented by early man as a tax write-off against mainland gains, though it is only fair to say that some experts have not accepted this theory, and many others have not even understood it.
"Blimey, mate, lack of acceptance has never bothered me!", said the jovial "Cocker" Leakey, when we met at the palaeontologists' local, the Skull and Trowel, in the East End of London. "Except, let's be honest, lack of acceptance by the BBC. Time was when they couldn't get enough of my mega-series. Now, they don't want to know about knowledge. On the telly these days it's all people decorating each other's living rooms and changing each other's gardens. Strewth, what's new about that? Primitive man was doing that way back!
"Next time you come across a pile of ancient rocks in a field, think to yourself: is this just an accidental pile of rocks - or is it, in fact, primitive man putting down a rockery, probably at the behest of primitive woman?"
"Cocker" Leakey is in a good mood today, because the BBC has at last relented and allowed him back into the programme-making field. …