Nutters wound up by Catherine Tate Christmas Special
Based on an article from the Times
Ofcom will launch an inquiry into Catherine Tate's comedy special after nutter complaints that it was the most offensive programme ever broadcast by the BBC
on a Christmas Day.
Nutters complained of excessive use of the “fuck” by Tate's foul-mouthed character Nan. A sketch depicting a Northern Irish family as terrorists prompted accusations of bigotry.
The sketch show attracted 6.4 million
viewers to BBC One at 10:30pm on Christmas night. The BBC defended the show, describing Tate as a comedy genius.
Ofcom's inquiry will ask whether the programme was appropriate for Christmas night, when many children would be watching.
Viewers complained that the programme began with an avalanche of strong language from Nan Taylor. Kathy Burke, playing her daughter, embarked upon a swearing competition with Nan.
The representation of a family in Northern Ireland receiving Christmas presents attracted complaints that Tate was exploiting lazy stereotypes. The grandmother opens her present to find a balaclava, which she puts over her head. Her husband
receives a knuckleduster which he excitedly uses to punch a chair. The mother's gift is an apron with a balaclava-clad terrorist and the words Remember Everything, Forgive Nothing. A gay son is handed a chocolate penis.
Tate admitted that
the language might have got out of hand. I don't know how this Christmas special got so depraved because it isn't what I set out to do, she told Radio Times. The sketch between Nan and her daughter required a climactic aspect when you're
topping each other with greater feats of swearing.
A spokesman for the BBC said: Catherine Tate creates characters who are so over the top as to be almost cartoon-like and this is where her genius lies. Her comedy is never meant to offend
any viewer and is always based on satire and grotesque exaggeration. The Nan character's foul language was fundamental to what makes her funny and the show was preceded by a warning that it contained strong language.
The BBC received
about 100 complaints through telephone and internet message boards.
A spokesman for Ofcom said: We have received complaints about offensive language and content in the Catherine Tate Christmas Show and we will look into the matter.
Update: Fucking MPs
Nadine Dorries, Member of Parliament for Mid Beds, says many children would have been subjected to foul
language in comedian Catherine Tate's Christmas special.
She has lodged a formal complaint with the independent broadcasting regulators Ofcom which is investigating.
Nadine Dorries is unsurprisingly one of the nutter MPs supporting Julian
Braziers BBFC Accountability bill.
BBC Radio 1 has bowed to mounting pressure to play the uncensored version of Fairytale of New York after a flood of complaints from listeners and the mother of the singer Kirsty MacColl.
Andy Parfitt, the station controller, admitted
that the decision to bleep the word “faggot” from the iconic Christmas song had been “wrong” and said the uncut version would from now on be broadcast. He backed down, saying that the singers did not use the word with any “negative intent”.
station's head of music, George Ergatoudis, had ordered the word to be removed from the single, which is in the running to be this year's Christmas number one, for fear of upsetting homosexuals.
MacColl's mother, Jean, had dismissed the move as
“pathetic and ridiculous”, saying that some of the world's most famous writers used bawdy language: Shane has written the most beautiful song and these characters live, they really live, and you have such sympathy for them.
listeners also inundated the station's website with complaints about the decision. Even gay rights campaigners had criticised the decision as “misguided”.
Andrew Gilliver, spokesman for the Lesbian and Gay Foundation, said: I have spent hours
ringing around and trawling the internet and I can't find anyone in the gay community who is offended by this song, in fact it is well loved.
Fairytale of New York , by The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl, has been re-released for the festive period and is a contender for the coveted Christmas number one slot.
It tells the story of two lovers who trade insults on Christmas
Eve and one verse ends with the memorable line: You scumbag, you maggot you cheap lousy faggot, Happy Christmas your arse I pray God It's our last.
Radio 1 bosses have bleeped out the word faggot from the song, for fear it will offend
homosexuals, but have provoked the ire of one of their own leading DJs as well as listeners.
The decision was criticised as "ridiculous" by Chris Moyles, the Radio 1 DJ, who is leading a campaign to make the 1987 song the Christmas
The BBC said: This is not a blanket ban but a station by station decision.
The advertising regulator is considering investigating Des Lynam's Setanta Claus TV ad after complaints that it degrades women by referring to breasts as "puppies".
Setanta's ad features Des Lynam dressed in a yellow Santa suit
in a grotto, while his scantily clad helper "Tinseltoes" flashes a large amount of cleavage.
This prompts a male visitor to the Setanta grotto to grin, stare and absentmindedly mention a "couple of puppies".
Advertising Standards Authority has received 23 complaints about the TV ad and is considering launching an investigation to see if it breaks the advertising standards code.
Complainants have objected that the ad is offensive and degrading to
women because of the use of the word "puppies" as a reference to breasts. Others argued that the ad is sexist, objectifies women and is running at inappropriate times of the day for such content to be shown.
The Children's secretary Ed Balls is poised call for a 9pm watershed for drinks advertising.
The move will be seen as the strongest indication yet that the Government intends to push through the restrictive measure.
Balls is understood to
have been influenced by a report by Alcohol Concern that claims there is a spike in alcohol ads between 3pm and 5pm.
According to insiders, he has briefed national Sunday newspaper political editors in a bid to get maximum coverage of his views on
The drinks industry has maintained that a 9pm watershed is an unnecessary measure as the scheduling rules around already prevents them appearing during or around children's programmes. They cannot be shown at other times if the
percentage of child viewers rises to 20% above the proportion of children in the general population.
The BBC has received more than 600 complaints about a pre watershed episode of EastEnders
The episode, on Tuesday, showed a gang of thugs rampaging through the Old Vic attacking drinkers with baseball bats and glasses and smashing furniture with
hammers as they hunted for reformed soccer hooligan Jase Dyer.
The programme, which began at 8pm after a warning, was watched by 9.6million people.
John Beyer, director of the nutters Mediawatch UK, said: This representation of gang
violence was completely beyond the pale for a programme that is shown at that time of the evening and repeated in the afternoon on Sunday. It's a ratings game and they seem prepared to do anything to attract controversy.
A total of 622
viewers complained directly, some condemning the brutality as "disgraceful" and "sickening".
There were another 300 complaints about a reference in the same programme to the Hillsborough tragedy. The brawl was followed by
character Minty Peterson telling northerner Dyer: "Five years out of Europe because of Heysel, because they penned you lot in to stop you fighting, and then what did we end up with - Hillsborough.
A BBC spokesman said the meaning of
the comment may have been misinterpreted. On the brawl, she claimed the violence was "implied rather than explicit". The corporation announced last night that the most violent scenes would be edited out of the Sunday omnibus edition, but the
Hillsborough reference will be left in.
ITV has received complaints after a programme in which presenters Trinny and Susannah persuaded women to bare their breasts was screened before the 9pm watershed.
The first in a new series of Trinny and Susannah Undress the Nation featured
topless women - including the two presenters - from the outset of its broadcast at 8pm.
Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine became notorious for their hands- on approach while fronting What Not To Wear. On the BBC fashion series they
had women stripped to their bras to demonstrate their ill-fitting undergarments. Their series for ITV went a step further on Wednesday - and provoked complaints to Internet messageboards.
One viewer described the programme as nasty, leaving a
bad taste in the mouth while another said: This is primetime family viewing. I switched on with young children present and was deeply disturbed by the level of nudity at that time. It made for extremely uncomfortable and gratuitous television,
particularly when I had to explain it to my children. Another wrote: They belittle and embarrass their victims.
The episode aimed to highlight how many women wear ill-fitting bras.
John Beyer, of Mediawatch-UK, said: I have had a
lot of calls from people who were surprised by the level of nudity in the programme. The number of topless women in a programme is likely to be very offensive to a lot of people. Ofcom has a duty to protect young people from this kind of thing.
An ITV spokesman said: The context of this programme fully justified the use of footage of women topless and in bras. The presenters were pursuing a serious subject in an engaging and entertaining way.
A Channel 4 drama, which depicts a second-generation British Muslim woman as a suicide bomber, was condemned last night by the British Muslim Forum.
Khurshid Ahmed, the chairman of the forum, called on Channel 4 not to air the film, Britz , which is due to be shown in two parts on Wednesday and Thursday nights.
Britz tells the story of a brother and sister, Sohail and Nasima, as they are pulled in different directions by their conflicting personal experiences in post-9/11 Britain. Sohail, a law student, signs up with MI5. His sister, a medical
student, becomes Britain's first female suicide bomber. The film's award-winning director is Peter Kosminsky.
Khurshid Ahmed said last night: Channel 4 should be working with us to defeat terrorism and extremism, not sowing hate and division
in our communities, and reinforcing negative stereotypes.
The Home Office has viewed the film. A government spokesman said: Having seen extracts from the film and heard Mr Kosminsky's comments, we can understand the British Muslim Forum's
concerns. Given Channel 4's remit as a public service broadcaster, they should listen to the views of moderate Muslims who reject violence and extremism, and they should air those views alongside this film.
Home Office antipathy may be more to do with the director's criticism of Control Orders:
Pre-trial detention is the greatest possible offence to the rule of
law, whatever the threat we face from terrorists, which I do not in anyway underestimate. Peter Kosminsky, the director of two interesting films called Britz, to be shown on Channel 4 next Wednesday and Thursday, explores the issues of control orders and
pre-trial detention with the unwavering conviction that they act as stimulants to terrorist recruitment rather than making us more secure].
The BBC veteran, Terry Wogan, presented Sunday's Points of View in a pair of moleskin trousers which clung relentlessly to a certain area and left little to the imagination.
The corporation has received a flurry of complaints about Terry's
Even Sir Terry's most ardent female fans appear to have found the experience a little unsettling, if the BBC's on-line message boards are to be believed.
One said: I have just watched Points of View with my
daughter and my husband. When the camera panned out on Terry Wogan, I didn't know where to look. Both my daughter and I were totally embarrassed to see Terry with very revealing trousers on. I'm sure we can't have been the only ones to notice.
A Rory Bremner sketch on Channel 4 in which Gordon Brown pledges to find missing child, Madeleine McCann, has attracted 32 complaints from viewers.
Viewers of last Sunday's episode of Bremner, Bird and Fortune said the sketch was in poor
taste and particularly insensitive because the McCann case is ongoing.
C4 said Bremner's intention was to lampoon the lengths that politicians will go to for public support. We can assure you the sketch was not aimed at the McCann family, but
was clearly directed at politicians and their opportunistic publicity stunts, a spokesman said. It was certainly never Channel 4's intention to offend or cause distress to the family or to our viewers.
The 32 complaints were made to
media regulator, Ofcom.
episode of the BBC show Holby City included a "gratuitous" display of harmful drinking behaviour, according to a complaint lodged by the drinks industry.
The Portman Group says the scene of two medical staff downing tequila shots
in the programme was a "serious breach" of Ofcom's broadcasting code.
It has written to the regulator calling for the episode to be investigated, and complained direct to the BBC. The 8pm Holby City episode, broadcast last month,
showed a woman medic asking bar staff for tequila.
She asked for five for starters and urged the bar staff to line them up before telling a male colleague neck these and back to mine.
The pair both downed the tequila
shots but the programme showed no "harmful impact" of their drinking, according to the Portman Group's complaint.
The drinks industry body says in its complaint to Ofcom: We would expect the BBC to take greater care with the
portrayal of alcohol in programmes. We would not advocate censorship, nor deny that storylines of alcohol misuse can be used to good and positive effect, ...BUT... those which include inappropriate, rapid or excessive alcohol consumption,
particularly by otherwise sympathetic characters, can encourage imitation.
The risk of viewers imitating drinking behaviour shown on TV is increased if programme makers do not show any negative effects, the Portman Group said.
ITV executive chairman Michael Grade has criticised video games for existing in a
"moral vacuum" compared to TV drama.
Grade said TV had a stronger moral standpoint because it could contextualise video content within the framework of a dramatic narrative.
He was responding to a presentation to the Royal
Television Society's Cambridge Convention by John Riccitiello, chief executive of Entertainment Arts.
Riccitiello said video games were unfairly demonised in the media for their violent content, which he argued was no worse than TV programmes and
films. He contrasted violent clips from shows such as 24 and CSI and films including Kill Bill and 300 with controversial video games such as Grand Theft Auto .
The video games industry has acted responsibly to
protect children from seeing unsuitable material with measures such as blocking mechanisms on games consoles, he argued. He conceded, however, that video games' ability to tell strong stories and present a moral framework was in its infancy.
apologised and expressed "regret" for showing the controversial pictures of the late Princess Diana being given oxygen in the Mercedes at the scene of the Paris car crash that killed her.
The broadcaster also promised to review the
circumstances leading to the broadcast.
It issued a statement apologising for showing the scenes during a broadcast from US network CBS Evening News in the early hours of this morning, the 10th anniversary of her death.
The first of a
series of three black and white photographs showed Diana in the car with no visible injuries, while the second and third photographs showed Diana receiving treatment.
Sky's statement said: We routinely give UK viewers the opportunity to watch
CBS's nightly network news bulletin, as shown to millions of people across the USA. In the early hours of Friday morning, Sky News broadcast a CBS bulletin which included an image of the late Princess Diana on the night of her fatal car accident.
We regret that this image was not highlighted by our pre-broadcast monitoring process and we are reviewing our internal processes as a result. We apologise for any offence caused to viewers. The image has not been used on any other part of Sky News'
output and we will not repeat the CBS bulletin.
Sky's broadcast prompted complaints from some viewers, who were not warned the pictures were being aired.
The report is still running on the website of CBS News.
The BBC Trust has dismissed a complaint by Opus Dei that episodes of Waking The Dead portrayed a "negative and false" view of the Catholic organisation.
The Trust ruled the drama was about individuals, not Opus Dei as an organisation.
Opus Dei's complaint went to the Trust on appeal after being rejected by the BBC earlier this year.
The two offending episodes of Waking
The Dead were screened on BBC One in January. The shows, subtitled The Fall , contained characters with Opus Dei connections who were "criminal or immoral", according to the complaint.
The committee ruled that the TV audience
would have been aware they were watching a drama. It added that Waking The Dead was an established and popular show into its sixth series, which dramatises a police unit who investigate dormant crimes.
It added it was satisfied that the
criminal motivations of some of the characters in the dramas were not linked to their membership of Opus Dei.
The complainants were concerned that the BBC had, in its view, chosen to reflect the portrayal of Opus Dei in The Da Vinci Code rather
than challenge it.
The committee ruled that the organisation had not been depicted in a "stereotypical" way. It pointed out that one character had told a police officer in the show not to make a fool of himself "by taking seriously
the swirls of conspiracy that surrounded Opus Dei".
The BBC has abandoned plans to screen a fictional terrorist attack by Muslim suicide
bombers in the primetime drama Casualty after internal clashes over whether the highly sensitive subject matter would cause offence.
BBC drama executives were keen to push the storyline and may even have started filming, a source close to
the production told The Observer. But they were overruled by the corporation's editorial guidelines department, which ordered that the episode be changed so that the Muslim characters were replaced by animal rights extremists.
The source said
that senior figures in the drama department supported the idea but were blocked by editorial guideline staff, who oversee the corporation's editorial and ethical standards. The drama staff were overruled because of concerns that the story would
perpetuate stereotypes of young Muslims in Britain.
The producers' frustration at BBC policy is likely to be intensified by revelations that Channel 4 is to risk controversy by broadcasting a two-part thriller, written and directed by the
Bafta-winning Peter Kosminsky, which depicts a suicide bombing by a young female Muslim causing devastation in London's Canary Wharf.
A spokeswoman for Channel 4 said: 'It's a very sensitive and multi-faceted
view of what it's like to be Muslim in modern Britain. It is not sensationalist.'
The police decision to complain to Ofcom about a
controversial Channel 4 documentary raises serious questions about media freedom , the Tories said yesterday.
West Midlands Police claimed that the broadcaster spliced together extracts from speeches by Islamic preachers to distort their
view for the documentary Undercover Mosque.
Paul Goodman, the shadow community cohesion minister, has written to Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, saying the decision caused "widespread concern" and warned that it could encourage
Goodman wrote : This decision raises serious questions about media freedom in Britain, and about whether public authorities tasked with upholding the rule of law are now, as a matter of policy,
giving special assistance to those who seek to undermine the rule of law, and the pluralist, liberal, democratic culture which both underpins it and guarantees community cohesion.
As you know, the decision has caused widespread concern.
It's hard to avoid the conclusion that this is a politically motivated referral, driven by the mistaken belief that the best means of dealing with separatist extremists is to appease them.
If so, this referral is likely to encourage extremists, discourage moderates, damage public confidence in the CPS and West Midlands Police, compromise media freedom and undermine the Government's stated community cohesion policy."
Channel 4 has strongly denied any wrongdoing over the hour-long Dispatches programme. The programme's commissioning editor, Kevin Sutcliffe, said: We are very confident of successfully defending this unfairness complaint against the programme if
Ofcom chooses to consider it. West Midlands Police have made a very general allegation of unfairness and have produced no evidence to support their claims.
Beyer Recommends... Malcolm and Barbara: A Love Story
A documentary is to be broadcast which shows the moment a man suffering from Alzheimer's disease dies.
Malcolm Pointon, a pianist and lecturer who developed the disease aged 51, was the subject of an award-winning
programme eight years ago which chronicled his battle against illness and the devotion of his wife, Barbara.
Now filmmaker Paul Watson has returned to the family to make a sequel which ends when Mrs Pointon calls him into a room in Thriplow,
Cambs, where her 66-year-old husband is dying.
It is only the second time a person has been filmed for British television passing away from an illness.
But John Beyer, of Mediawatch-UK said: There is a certain dignity in death that is
not appropriate for people to gawp at on television. The way that broadcasters seem to want to intrude on every human activity undermines that dignity. We are entitled to privacy and dignity, and television destroys all that.
documentary will be shown on ITV1 on August 8, said It is only Barbara's fortitude that keeps me from weeping for Malcolm. It was she who asked me to film 'to the bitter end. The film includes his moments of happiness and love for Barbara up to
his death surrounded by his family. I don't want our ITV audience to be frightened of death.
Beyer Recommends... Malcolm and Barbara: A Love Story
ITV eventually admitted that Malcolm Pointon had passed away days after the cameras had left his bedside.
The new furore over television “fakery” came about after Pointon’s brother Graham posted a message on
Times Online, disclosing that ITV had misrepresented the final scenes.
The incident came to light days after Michael Grade, ITV Executive Chairman, promised “zero tolerance” over any cases of misleading viewers.
It seems that Mediawatch-UK were somehow blamed for the 'wrecking' of the worthy Alzheimer's project and John Beyer took the opportunity to write t the press:
simply do not agree that this praiseworthy project has been “wrecked”. As a result of the controversy the programme has attracted a great deal of advanced publicity and Mrs Pointon has had many opportunities to set out very well the case for greater
resources to be given to Alzheimer’s patients and sufferers. We have no quarrel with that whatsoever.
On the wider issue, we do believe that our intervention has given rise to a healthy debate about the role of television in our society and
whether or not it is right for this medium to broadcast into the public domain the solemn moment of death and the private grief that accompanies it. It has had the additional benefit of focusing on the internal processes by which programmes get to the
screen and the ‘spin’ that is attached to attract viewers.
Channel 4 challenges paranoia of porn, violence and children
Re the film Clapham Junction which was screened to millions of people on channel
Four ( Monday 23/07/07 ).
Bearing in mind the current state of obsessive behaviour, on the part of the law and other groups of people, the film contained brutal scenes of gay-bashings and murder on Clapham Common.
In another clip, an
actor playing the part of a 14 year old boy (As far as I am aware he looked and played the part of a 14 year old) buggered a 29 year old man in a graphical four minute sex-scene.
If any of your readers have Virgin Media they can see this film
again on digital playback until next Saturday at no extra cost.
I thought the film was excellent but in the light of some people’s paranoia towards child porn images and violence, I'm surprised Channel Four screened the film. Even more concerning
is the hypocrisy surrounding a child-sex scene and channel Four’s endorsement of child porn?
The BBC has cleared the presenter Jonathan Ross of breaching standards during an interview with
Ross told the TV cook she was a "Milf" (Mothers I'd Like to Fuck) during an interview on his BBC1 chat show Friday Night With Jonathan Ross. He did not spell out what the acronym stood for - but many viewers would have
been aware of its meaning.
In the same interview, broadcast in December 2006, Ross insulted vegetarians by saying: Serve them fucking right when Lawson mentioned they would be unable to eat a Christmas dinner containing roast potatoes
cooked in goose fat.
He also stated that if anyone offered him goose for Christmas lunch he would shit on their couch.
A viewer complained about the use of foul language and inappropriate references.
But the corporation's editorial standards committee did not uphold the complaint, ruling that Ross's comments and use of sexual innuendo were part of a litany of grotesque over-reactions which derived its comic effect
precisely from its outrageous exaggeration. The committee said Ross had a well-established reputation for robust humour and language.
Ofcom whinge at tardy apology over Iggy Pop comment
From the Times
The BBC presenter Jo Whiley should have made an immediate apology to viewers after the singer Iggy Pop used the phrase “paki shop” in a live Glastonbury Festival interview, Ofcom has said.
The regulator criticised the BBC’s response to
the lapse, which occurred in a late-night television interview with the controversial performer. Pop told Whiley that his transparent trousers solicited admiring glances when he walked down Camden High Street at a paki shop.
The BBC said
that the veteran American punk star was probably unaware that a term commonly used 30 years ago has now passed out of ‘polite usage’.
Ofcom said that the term “paki” was racial abuse which is generally considered very offensive. Although the term was not intended to be pejorative, its use was offensive.
The BBC said that the programme’s producers discussed Pop’s appearance when the BBC Two show came off-air and concluded that the presenter should have been told to apologise at the time. An apology was issued later that day on the BBC News
website in the light of complaints made directly to the BBC.
Sir Trevor McDonald's ITV show drew more than 100 complaints from viewers after he made a
joke about Bernard Manning, the comedian who died last week. Manning, 76, was notorious for his politically incorrect humour.
The show, News Knight takes a satirical look at the week's news.
Sir Trevor introduced an item titled:
This week's racist and dead. He said: This week it's fat, narrow-minded comic Bernard Manning. I never thought he was a racist. I just thought he was a fat white bastard.
ITV said yesterday it had
received 77 complaints and Ofcom, the television regulator, said it had received 26 and would be assessing them.
Sir Trevor's remark about Manning was described by the comedian Jim Bowen as "appalling" and Lynn Moran, Manning's
"companion", was said to be "very shocked".
An ITV source said: It's a satire show. I'm sure Bernard would find the whole thing hilarious.
At least 80
viewers have made complaints about the recent scene in EastEnders which saw pregnant Dawn chained to a bed and threatened with having to undergo a caesarean section.
The storyline was already under scrutiny as the scriptwriters admitted
they were forced to rewrite scenes in the light of the Madeline McCann disappearance, but it seems the unnerving story with Dawn, Rob and May was too much for a few viewers.
A BBC spokesman has since apologised, adding: We are sorry if some
people were offended by this drama unfolding. He also stressed that the corporation will be addressing complaints fully in due course.
Update: More Complaints
25th June 2007
The number of complaints to the BBC about the EastEnders episode has risen to 183.
The screening of photographs showing Britain's Princess Diana's "dying moments" has triggered an investigation by Ofcom.
Channel 4 received complaints from 'outraged' viewers after airing their
documentary Diana: The Witnesses In The Tunnel on Wednesday 6th June, which included images of the princess receiving oxygen from paramedics as she lay slumped in the wreckage of the 1997 Paris car crash that claimed her life.
complained to them directly, and 2,000 viewers complained on the Channel 4 website.
More than three and a half million tuned in to watch the documentary. A spokesman for Channel 4 said: This is a strong performance for a history documentary
and it seems viewers tuned in to make up their own minds.
Ofcom has rejected 62 complaints over Channel 4's
controversial documentary Diana: The Witnesses in the Tunnel , ruling that the use of photographs of Princess Diana's fatal car crash was justified by their context.
The complaints largely centred on the use of the photographs and the
purpose of the programme. Some viewers said screening the programme was disrespectful to the wishes of Prince William and Prince Harry, who had called for it not to be broadcast.
Ofcom said Diana's death was a sensitive issue and that any
documentary treatment of it could offend some viewers.
But it said the images and themes of the programme were in line with viewers' expectations of an investigative C4 documentary and that the use of the photographs was therefore not gratuitous:
The photographs were integral to the credibility of the argument being made and the corroborated first hand testimony .
An appeal about a previous decision regarding Hellbound: Hellraiser II on Rapture TV, 15 May 2006, 21:00
Rapture TV is a general entertainment channel. Hellbound: Hellraiser II is a well-known 1980's horror film rated 18 by the BBFC. A viewer complained about the broadcast of graphic violence so near to the
watershed on a channel which is not PIN protected, and therefore widely accessible. Rapture TV was asked to comment in relation to Rules 1.6 and 1.21 of the Broadcasting Code which state:
1.6: The transition to more adult material must not be unduly abrupt at the watershed or after the time when children are particularly likely to be listening. For television, the strongest material should appear later in the schedule.
BBFC 18-rated films or their equivalent must not be broadcast before 2100 on any service except for pay per view services, and even then they may be unsuitable for broadcast at that time.
Rapture TV said that the film was preceded by an 18 visual and audio warning and that it was transmitted after the watershed. It said that the EPG description was clear and highlighted that the film was a horror film and therefore unlikely to
be family viewing. It commented that the weekly slot promoted by the channel for a horror movie should have meant that the audience would expect a horror film at that time.
This film contains graphic sequences of violence
from the start, e.g. a scene of a man, whose face is impaled by hooks, being torn apart; graphic scenes of bloodied mutilation which explained how the main character, Pinhead came to be; and an image of a corpse covered in maggots.
The film was
preceded by a visual warning which included the BBFC's 18 rating symbol and text noting that the film was not suitable for persons under 18. An accompanying audio warning stated: The following film is not suitable for any persons under the age of 18
years. It may contain scenes of an adult nature and contains bad language from the beginning.
The information given before this film was in both audio and visual format. However the wording of the on-screen text was insufficient to fully
inform viewers of the nature of the content to follow. Similarly, although the audio information was more comprehensive, this suggested that the film may contain scenes of an adult nature which would not have prepared viewers for the sequences of
graphic violence which were present from the very start of the film.
We accept that regular viewers of the channel may be familiar with this weekly horror slot and that some information had been provided before the broadcast of the film. However,
given the extreme violence in the very early scenes of the film, it was unsuitable for broadcast so soon after the watershed on a free-to-air, general entertainment channel. The violent and extreme nature of the imagery at the beginning of the film
resulted in the transition after the watershed to more adult material being unduly abrupt. For the same reason, this film was not suitable for broadcast at 21:00.
The scheduling of the film was therefore in
breach of the Code, rules 1.6 and 1.21.
is to play moral standards crusader Mary Whitehouse in a film by her archenemy, the BBC.
Devout Christian Whitehouse became a household name after starting her campaign against "blasphemy, bad language, violence and indecency" on the
airwaves when she heard The Beatles say "knickers" on a show in 1964.
Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story was written by Amanda Coe, who helped script Channel 4's Shameless. It will reveal how former BBC director general Hugh
Carleton Greene reacted to her attacks by commissioning a nude painting of her with five breasts for his office.
Executive producer Leanne Klein said the 90-minute film, based on first-hand accounts, would be filled with humour.
A Complaint by Opus Dei that its members were unfairly portrayed as "murderers, thieves
and adulterers" in the television crime drama Waking the Dead has been rejected by the BBC.
The Roman Catholic lay organisation, whose members include Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, claimed that the drama had presented its
members as "self-serving hypocrites" who cover up evil actions while hiding behind a veneer of piety and penitential rituals of self flagellation.
But Andrew Bell, the director of the corporation's editorial complaints unit, said
he could not uphold the complaint as he thought most viewers would not take the programme seriously.
Bell said Waking the Dead was a highly fictionalised format in which unlikely conspiracies, guilty
secrets and unexpected revelations are the order of the day.
The controversial Catholic organisation complained about two episodes in January which featured an Opus Dei member shooting his lover, a married woman who is also a member, and a
The award-winning drama also depicted the fictional head of the Catholic organisation as a shadowy figure pursuing money and power and implied that it was involved in the real-life murder of the Italian banker Roberto Calvi in 1982.
Jack Valero, a director of Opus Dei, said the portrayal of the organisation was unremittingly negative. He said all the characters linked to the group were "criminal or immoral". He vowed to take the matter further.
The catchphrases of a television comedy character are being blamed for a rise in aggression and bad
manners among youngsters.
Lauren, the obnoxious teenager portrayed by the comedian Catherine Tate, is fuelling a culture of "disrespect" in classrooms, according to a survey.
Children are increasingly repeating the character's
lines "Am I bovvered?" and "Whatev-ah!" when staff try to discipline them. Some pupils may even be re-enacting violence they have seen in TV dramas.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), which published the survey,
also disclosed that growing numbers of teachers are quitting because of concerns over assaults in the classroom.
A lack of parental supervision meant too many pupils were staying up late and watching "inappropriate" television beyond
the 9pm watershed, the union's annual conference in Bournemouth was told yesterday.
However, teachers said that not all television had a negative influence. The association said television encouraged increased awareness of current affairs, with
53% of teachers overhearing pupils talking about healthy eating habits, 40% about global warming and 29% about the war in Iraq.
BBC One has apologised
after the Nicholas Lyndhurst sitcom After You've Gone broadcast the words 'shag', 'crap', 'bollocks' and 'tits' in a Sunday afternoon slot.
Five viewers complained to the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom about the swearing when the show was
originally aired at 8.30pm on a Friday. But two days later, the show was broadcast at 5.10pm with the same language, attracting another 32 complaints.
The BBC admitted that language that had the potential to offend was used several times
in this programme, but said did not believe it was inappropriate for 8.30pm. However, it confessed that it such language was not suitable for broadcast on a Sunday afternoon when many children would be watching.
It said that the volume of
complaints, both to Ofcom and directly to the BBC, proved it had mad a misjudgement and said sorry for any offence caused, posting the apology on its website.
Ofcom said that it considers that this level of language is generally acknowledged
as mild by the majority of adult viewers and was justified by the editorial context of the programme, a light-hearted comedy. But it added that the language was too strong for 5.10pm on Sunday.
Thinking about it, any BBFC cut that is noted as "for [age related] category" can immediately be shown on TV. The
BBFC have implicitly acknowledged that it would be uncut at a higher category and hence can be shown on TV at the appropriate time without further ado.
Thanks to Andrew
BBC (1 and 2) and Sky have both shown complete versions of Billy madison . Not a cut in sight, totalling somewhere in the region of 30 seconds of footage. Oh dear.
Scenes of bullying and torture in ITV soap Coronation Street have been cleared by Ofcom after more
than 30 viewers complained.
An episode shown last October featured womanising builder Charlie Stubbs tying up teenager David Platt and forcing his head under water.
Ofcom received 31 complaints saying such scenes were unacceptable before
the watershed and might be imitated.
ITV1 insisted the audience knew that Charlie was a womanising bully and were prepared for the confrontation. The broadcaster said the words "Charlie has a nasty surprise for David" before the
programme hinted at what was to come.
The episode had Charlie luring David into a flat to exact revenge for weeks of taunting over an affair.
Ofcom said: Even if there were some risk of imitation, we believe that the scenes were
editorially justified by the plot development, the characters involved and the manner in which it was edited. But it added that the broadcaster could have given more warning about the violent content before the episode was aired.
If anything, these figures underestimate the percentage of my community life involving alcohol. Where else is there to go to
meet people outside of home or work?
Based on an article from Blackpool Today
Popular soaps broadcast before the watershed are "awash" with scenes featuring alcohol, a
survey has found.
Teen drama Hollyoaks was the most fun, with booze making an appearance in 18% of scenes monitored.
Soap shows' alcohol content could be "conditioning" British teenagers to think high consumption is the
norm, according to campaign group The Food Commission, which features the survey in its Food Magazine.
More than 17% of Coronation Street screen time showed alcohol compared with 16% in both EastEnders and Emmerdale .
Australian soap Home and Away featured booze in 6.7% of its screen time during the survey, which was carried out over a fortnight during July 2006.
Report author, nutritionist Cally Matthews, said: Soap shows are awash with scenes
showing alcohol being consumed as part of a seemingly healthy lifestyle and appearing as a normal part of everyday life. There is a real danger that this naturalisation of alcohol consumption may desensitise teenagers to the dangers of excessive alcohol
Comment: Miserable Prohibitionists
Dunno why they cite Eastenders
in this. The characters in that are always in the pub miserable, shouting at each other and drowning their sorrows. Surely that's the image the booze police want to be shown.
I think for of these groups
would like to see prohibition and these calls for censorship are just a front.
A TV show featuring a man talking about his grief at being unable to help his dying father end his life was withdrawn.
Bosses at ITV1 withdrew a planned edition of the Jeremy Kyle Show after a campaign group
questioned whether it would present a balanced reflection of the euthanasia debate.
Mark Tolmie had been due to appear on the show to describe his anguish at seeing his father suffer with spinal cancer for three years until his death.
Edward Tolmie had asked his son to take him abroad to an assisted suicide clinic, but Mark's family convinced him that it was not the right thing to do. If he had carried out his father's wishes, Tolmie would have faced being arrest when he arrived back in the UK.
He decided to appear on the TV show to highlight the dilemma faced by families in his situation.
However, the ProLife Alliance intervened after reading in The Bolton News about Mr Tolmie's scheduled appearance.
Prolife's political director, said: It concerned me because it was very much about one man telling his story and it was very clear he had strong opinions on the law. We were concerned there wouldn't be any representation from the other side.
Millington emailed the show's producers to ensure they had followed broadcast regulator Ofcom's guidelines on impartiality on matters of political controversy: We know the show isn't political but the topic is highly political,
controversial and current .
Tolmie said he found out via a telephone message that the show had been withdrawn and that it would be shown at a later date: It's disappointing and I don't really know what the complaints were about but we'll
just have to wait until it is shown. .
Lucy Garbutt, the show's executive producer, insisted the show is not political and that it concentrated on Tolmie's personal story rather than the issue at large.
The BBC has apologised for Jeremy Clarkson's description of crash-victim Richard Hammond as "a mental".
Mental health groups complained about the Top Gear episode when co-presenter Hammond returned following his life-threatening smash. "Are you a mental?" Clarkson enquired, while third host James May offered a tissue in case of dribble.
Peter McCabe, chief executive of brain injury charity Headway, received complaints from viewers and passed his concerns to the corporation:
We made a formal complaint to the BBC and Ofcom following the programme after hearing from scores of deeply offended brain injury survivors, carers and the people who work with them.
The BBC's reply read: The Top Gear team accept that
by using the term 'a mental' we caused offence to some members of our audience and would like to apologise for doing so.
The BBC had previously defended the show : Viewers are aware of the playful nature of the programme and the boyish
rapport that exists between the programme's presenters. It's something viewers really enjoy."
The BBC was accused of
banning an anti-war video song, mocking Prime Minister Tony Blair, because of fears that it will offend the government.
Leader of the anti-war Respect Party, George Galloway, said he would be raising the issue in parliament and would also be
writing to the BBC's director general Mark Thompson, according to the Campaign for Broadcasting Freedom (CBF).
This lickspittle BBC has a deplorable record of toadying to the government, said Galloway, who plays a cameo role in the song, a
cover version of War (What Is It Good For?) by the Ugly Rumours, named after Blair's band when he was a university student.
CBF reported that the anti-war video had risen to sixth in the UK's pop single charts and was vying to be number
one, even though it is only available as a download.
The song has already been publicized by the BBC, but only on a regional news program and as a last item on Independent Television News on Thursday, CBF said.
The BBC's pop station Radio
One was due to broadcast a package about the single for its Newsbeat program on Friday, but was pulled at the last minute because it was not newsworthy, according to the campaign group.
Respect claimed that it had been told privately from within
the highest sources at the BBC that a banning order had been instituted against the anti-war song.
Nutters have hit out at
the BBC over a “sick” and “exploitive” game show-style programme that reunites long-lost relatives.
Gene Detectives , BBC1’s latest breakfast time show, has received 29 formal complaints whilst more
than 100 'disgruntled' viewers have registered their dismay on the Corporation’s Points of View forum.
The two-week, ten episode series, puts members of the public in touch with unknown relatives following a
series of humiliating “trials”. From a shortlist of three possible family members, the contestant is asked to guess who they think they are related to before being told, during the grand finale, whether or not they are right. While the correct relative
is reunited with the contestant, the other two applicants are sent home, and told that they do not have a long-lost family member.
John Beyer, director of mediawatch-uk, called on the BBC to pull the
programme. He said: This is obviously causing offence to viewers and that plays no part in the BBC’s remit. I think it’s a mistake to trivialise such a serious issue, and to turn it into to some sort of quiz show is clearly a mistake – one that is not
ringing well with viewers. For that reason, and with such levels of complaint, the BBC needs to review the programme – and not re-commission it.
The BBC has received complaints after deciding to screen a mock rail crash on Top Gear despite Friday's Cumbrian
train derailment in which one person died.
The segment saw presenter Jeremy Clarkson leave a people carrier on a level crossing in Lincolnshire as an unmanned 107-tonne diesel engine crashed into it.
The BBC said this morning that 43
people had complained while Ofcom said it had received three calls.
A BBC spokesman said it was agreed following discussions to screen the crash with a warning beforehand: We did think about it and that is why we decided to make an
announcement before the programme to alert viewers to the fact there was an item about rail safety. He added that Network Rail had also been consulted and agreed the segment should go ahead.
The Network Rail deputy chief executive, Iain
Coucher, said on Friday the segment was important in raising awareness about the dangers of level crossings: Though light-hearted in tone, the message is serious - don't run the risk at level crossings . Our people worked hard for months to
safely plan this staged event and the results are breathtaking.
There was a protest against the BBC programme,
The Verdict, at BBC TV Centre, White City on Sunday 11th February 2007
Representatives from the London Feminist Network and Justice For Women protested The Verdict , a staged rape trial with a celebrity jury, real legal
personnel and actors for claimant and defendants.
The organisers said: We asked the BBC to withdraw The Verdict but they have chosen to go ahead and further trivialise the trauma that rape victims undergo. For victims of rape, justice
is very rare indeed and the conviction rate continues to fall.
We asked to see the producer of The Verdict and a representative of the BBC came to speak with us. We formally lodged a complaint in person and again asked the BBC to withdraw
The programme was often good; often, dare I say, valuable viewing, apart from the grimly inexcusable way in which the
camera lingered on the (unblinking, honest, thoughtful) face of Sara Payne during graphic sexual testimony. Thanks: we'd got the link. But far from exploiting or demeaning the idea of rape, it gave a timely and necessary lesson, to those who could sit
through the anguished details and the well-acted tears, of the opacity which surrounds the reporting and prosecution of rape in this country, and the vagaries, ill and necessary, of the jury system. Hardly anyone, for instance, could have been left
unaware, after this week's staging, of the staggeringly small number of reported rape cases which result in convictions. 6%, nor, as crucially, of the guts and support needed to even make that report in the first place.
Nor could viewers
have been left untouched by the anguish of this jury, even this staged jury, grappling with the burden of proof: tearful, exhausted, fraught by the end, reluctantly going for 'not guilty' despite strong instinct. Patsy Palmer, Jennifer Ellison and Honor
Blackman looked shell-shocked by the end, torn by the thought they might come down on the side of the wrong - well, yes, actors, but you had begun to forget that, a little. Along the way we got some great slices of real real life: the nosy, dozy usher;
the gossipy clerk; the barristers still awarding themselves, 40 years away from the desk at the front of the class, points for cleverness; a peppery old ex-judge, wise beyond his 194 years, a lifetime spent grappling with the same dichotomies filling the
jury room with sound and fury.
Brits host Russell Brand has triggered hundreds of complaints with jokes about the Queen and the Iraq war.
ITV1 had received around 300 complaints by Thursday morning, while broadcasting watchdog Ofcom logged
a further 135. Ofcom said most of the calls concerned the tone of the jokes made during the ceremony, which was shown live for the first time in 17 years.
Broadcaster ITV defended Brand, calling him an edgy host for an edgy event, but apologised for any offence caused.
The presenter opened the show by poking fun at singer Robbie Williams, who is currently being treated in a rehab clinic for addiction to prescription drugs. Pointing at a padlock that formed part of the set, Brand said it was "Robbie
Williams' medicine cabinet".
Announcing the international breakthrough artist award, Brand commented: I think a good international breakthrough would be if the British and American soldiers tell each other where they are standing.
ITV1 said that swearing was bleeped out before the watershed and the broadcaster said the complaints were about Brand rather than any bad language.
Top Gear: complaints about a dead cow on the roof rack
From Brand Republic
The BBC's Top Gear has landed itself back into controversy, when a stunt involving a dead cow strapped to presenter Jeremy Clarkson's car roof prompted 91 complaints.
Media regulator Ofcom has so far received
10 complaints about an item, while 81 viewers have complained directly to the BBC.
The episode was an American fly-drive special which saw presenters Clarkson, Hammond and James May taking a pit stop in Mississippi, where producers challenged
them to make dinner from roadkill.
After a dead squirrel failed to whet their appetites, Clarkson returned with a deceased cow strapped to his roof. While Hammond and May descended into hysterics, Clarkson rapidly reversed and turned the car, to
make the dead animal fall off.
Jan Creamer, chief executive of Animal Defenders International, said: In this case, it is not a matter of whether the animals suffered for the programme, but the fact that 'Top Gear' is making light of an
activity that is so demeaning to animals. Top Gear is being completely irresponsible promoting this activity. Our message is simple. If a family programme like this thinks it is reasonable to degrade animals in this way to endorse such unthinking
attitudes to our fellow creatures, then we must encourage viewers to boycott it.
However, the BBC is standing by the programme, and a spokesman said: Viewers are well aware of the type of humour on 'Top Gear 'and this was very typical of
its irreverent humour. However, no offence was intended.
Channel 4 has postponed transmission of its "wank week" programming in a bid to avoid further controversy in the
aftermath of the Celebrity Big Brother racism row.
The network's short season of three late night documentaries about masturbation was to have been broadcast next month, but has now been taken out of the schedule.
They are expected to be
broadcast at a later date, but it is understood they may be broadcast separately and certainly not as part of a branded wank week season.
There is said to be concern at senior levels within Channel 4 about the negative publicity the masturbation
documentaries have already attracted.
A number of public figures has used wank week to claim that standards are slipping at Channel 4, including former ITV chief executive Charles Allen in his MacTaggart lecture in Edinburgh last August.
Wank week threatened to cause further embarrassment for Channel 4 executives already shaken by the Celebrity Big Brother furore, at a time when Channel 4 is trying to play up its public service broadcasting credentials.
Wank week included documentaries about compulsive male masturbators, female masturbation, and a wankathon event held in London last year.
Ofcom are changing their rules to allow TV evangelists to appeal for money on
The change, opposed by the Church of England as having a clear potential for exploiting viewers’ sensitivities, comes after a consultation process by the regulator Ofcom. It found that channels being beamed in from overseas, and
therefore not subject to British broadcasting rules, rendered the previous regulations ineffectual.
The new rules come with caveats such as not creating unrealistic expectations of what a donor’s gift will actually accomplish . Ofcom said:
There is evidence that this move will help religious broadcasters who otherwise might not be able to get off the ground by giving them a way to raise money.
The change was welcomed by Revelation’s boss, Howard Conder: I said to Ofcom
last year that I was going to have to break the law. It wasn’t fair that the channels broadcasting via satellite from overseas could appeal for funds when we couldn’t ask for anything on-air, or even thank anyone who had sent anything in.
All we want to do is tell people how much we need to run the channel, and show them what our shortfall is. At the moment we want an outside broadcast van so we can broadcast from other cities. We want to do less of the preaching and more documentaries.
The change could also pave the way for greater involvement of American evangelicals in Britain. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, one of America’s biggest ministries, said that it was aware of the rule change and right now we are
consulting with our partners in the UK and considering a range of options.
Twelve satellite channels beam Christianity to Britain. Ten broadcast from outside the UK and so are out of Ofcom’s jurisdiction. UCB, the other British channel, said
that it would not appeal for funds.
The religious sect, Opus Dei has accused the BBC of portraying its members as
"murderers, thieves and adulterers" in over a popular fictional drama.
The secretive Catholic organisation lodged an official complaint of defamation after the award-winning drama, Waking the Dead showed an episode featuring a
murder investigation of a Opus Dei devotee.
In the drama, a spurned Opus Dei member exacts revenge on his lover, a married woman, also a member of the sect, by shooting her and his love rival to death in what the organisation has called gratuitous scenes of sex and violence.
The episode entitled The Fall also sees the fictional head of Opus Dei being portrayed as a shadowy figure pursuing wealth and influence.
Last night a spokesman for the community, which the former Education Secretary Ruth Kelly
is a member of, accused the corporation of copying ideas from the Hollywood blockbuster Da Vinci Code , whose plot also revolves around a murdering Opus Dei member.
Jack Valero said: In this programme Opus Dei was portrayed as an
organisation of murderers, thieves and adulterers who justify and cover up evil actions while hiding behind a veneer of hypocritical piety and penitential rituals of self-flagellation. The three characters were portrayed as members are self-serving
hypocrites whose main reason for belonging to Opus Dei is depicted as being their wealth. This portrayal is lifted from the Da Vinci Code, a book and film which claimed – against all evidence - to be based on fact.
The religious organisation
has also accused makers of the two-part BBC 1 drama shown on Sunday, January 21 and 22 of breaching the corporation's strict guidelines on religious prejudice.
Valero added: Members of Opus Dei are Catholics, they are not going around killing
people, having sex with married people and making money. It is a completely false portrayal. Whilst the BBC chose to create a fictional bank for the programme, it chose not to create a fictional religious organisation. We believe that it is
irresponsible of the BBC, as a public service broadcaster, to have perpetuated that prejudice, in breach of its editorial guidelines. Opus Dei is not an anonymous corporation but a family with feelings and values.
Last night a BBC spokesman
said: We are unable to comment as we are yet to receive the complaint. There have only been four complaints from the viewers about the show.
The alleged racist abuse directed at a Bollywood film star appearing on the Channel 4 reality show
Celebrity Big Brother became an international issue.
In a day of extraordinary developments, Chancellor Gordon Brown was forced to defend Britain against allegations of racism on his first full day of a trip to India.
Brown said he
regarded the alleged racist comments made on the programme as "offensive": I want Britain to be seen as a country of fairness and tolerance. Anything detracting from this I condemn.
And as the protests grew more
vociferous, No 10 was put on the defensive. Tony Blair's spokesman said any perception abroad that Britain tolerated racism had to be "regretted and countered".
Yesterday, Indian TV news was dominated by images of Shilpa Shetty in tears
after arguments with flatmates, during which she was allegedly called a "Paki" and a "cunt".
Racist Big Brother leaves Shilpa shattered , read the headline in the Deccan Herald, one of several newspapers to carry the
story on its front page. And in the city of Patna, effigies of Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd and Jo O'Meara were burnt.
In one recent argument on the show, Goody told Shetty: Go back to the slums and find out what real life is like, lady. You are
not some princess in fucking Neverland. You're not some princess here... you need a day in the slums... fucking go in your community.
And Danielle Lloyd was heard to mutter, out of Shetty's earshot: I think she should fuck off home. Britain's media watchdog Ofcom reported a record 19,300 complaints against the programme, with a further 2,000 contacting Channel 4 directly.
Last night, it emerged Channel 4 and Endemol, makers of Big Brother, are facing a lawsuit from viewers who say they were distressed by what they saw. In what would be the first case of its kind, seven Asian viewers, all victims of racism, have
instructed the civil rights law firm, Equal Justice, to institute proceedings in the "provision of services" under the Race Relations Act 1976.
Keith Vaz MP, former minister for Europe, used an early day motion in the House of Commons
to call on Channel 4 bosses to take "effective action" against the "unacceptable" racist language allegedly used.
Ratings for the highlights show on Tuesday evening hit 4.5 million viewers, up from 3.5 million on Monday.
The bookmaker William Hill said Shetty was now the new "hot favourite" to win. In a further twist, Goody and Shetty are to go head to head in the next round of evictions.
Last night, Channel 4 claimed there had been no overt
racial abuse or racist behaviour directed against Shilpa Shetty within the Big Brother house . It said what had happened could be characterised as a cultural and class clash between her and three of the British females in the house. Unambiguous
racist behaviour and language is not tolerated under any circumstances in the house. Housemates are constantly monitored and Channel 4 would intervene if a clear instance of this arose. Channel 4 said it had spoken to Shetty, who has not
complained or raised the issue of racism.
Update: Sponsors Walk Out
Several advertisers and sponsors have pulled their
support for Channel 4 and Jade Goody who was also voted out of the house.
Update: No Police Action
No arrests will be made in
connection with the Celebrity Big Brother racism row, police said yesterday. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided that what occurred was "clearly offensive" but "not criminal".
Hertfordshire Police said: Following
consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, it was felt that it would not be in the public interest to effect arrests or to pursue footage through the courts.
From the Daily Mail : How to end this Big Brother farce
British casualties rising almost daily in Afghanistan. Iraq drowning in blood. Inflation at its highest for 15 years. Interest rates heading skywards. Foreign criminals at large all over the country. The NHS in crisis.
Prisons full to overflowing. . .
So what was occupying MPs' minds at Prime Minister's Questions?
Why, the latest instalments of Celebrity Big Brother in which many viewers claim to have spotted evidence of racism against Bollywood
star Shilpa Shetty.
But Blair isn't the only politician distracted by CBB. Far from it. In India, Gordon Brown puts on his sternest expression and condemns it as 'offensive'.
Not to be outdone, Treasury Minister Ed Balls announces he
feels ashamed of it, while former Europe Minister Keith Vaz demands 'effective action'. Peter Hain - never a man to let a bandwagon pass without jumping on it - tours the broadcasting houses to express outrage.
Meanwhile complaints pour in to
Ofcom, Channel 4 and the Commission for Racial Equality, while some viewers call the police.
It's enough to make you weep.
Now, the Mail is loath to enter the fray but, like the police, we wonder if there is any real evidence of racism
here. Isn't it more about class, and the fact Miss Shetty's thick and foul-mouthed British housemates are jealous of her superior intelligence, grace and good manners?
CBB's detractors are right. The programme does shame our national culture. But
there is an answer: get up and turn the damn thing off!
But there is an answer: get up and turn the damn thing off!
The Daily Mail
for once in it's lifespan advocates the use of the off switch for those who find something on TV offensive! It would be seen as a miracle if such a view was not taken with utter hypocrisy and double standards.
When have the Daily Mail ever
suggested to their readers who've been offended by programmes because of offensive content to "get up and turn the dam thing over".
How did they respond to the thousand of Christian nutters who demanded the BBC not show Jerry
Springer: The Opera because it offended the precious relegious sensibilities? Did they say get up and turn the dam thing over ? No! They bemoaned the BBC for "allowing" such "obscenity" into "our homes" (middle
England's homes!) and for being so insensitive and unfeeling towards Christians.
Real abuse to someone on a TV programme has occurred here and that cannot be condoned. But the Mail don't seem to think it's a problem and are telling people who are
angered by it to stop complaining. So racist abuse of REAL people on TV is ok and not worth getting angry about in the warped double standards morality of the Daily Mail.
The Daily mail mocks politicians for getting involved with the fuss. They
suggest politicians should butt out on TV matters.
They should cast their minds back to the Brass Eye paedophile programme uproar in 2001 when they demanded MPs stepped in to censure Channel 4 for allowing such "evil" to be broadcast!
It seems the Daily Mail doesn't have a problem with politicians for getting involved with the uproar from controversial TV programmes just as long as they are responding to the Daily Mail's uproar!
Channel 4 bosses have ordered a review of Big Brother following the racism row, but say that the current
Celebrity edition of the show will remain on air.
Chairman Luke Johnson said that the Channel 4 board expressed "profound regret" for any offence that may have been caused.
Johnson said the board believed that last week's events
on Celebrity Big Brother had triggered an important debate: Clearly many people were worried and offended by what they saw. I want to reassure them that we take the views of our audience very seriously and profoundly regret any offence that may
have been caused.
Johnson said the board had commissioned a review of the "editorial and compliance processes" of Big Brother. The board will receive a full report and seek to identify any lessons that can be learned for the
future, he said.
But just as Luke Johnson sought to dampen down criticism of the organisation, he became embroiled in further controversy over a racial
rant on another reality TV programme on the channel.
The television regulator Ofcom said it had received scores of complaints about another reality show in which a contestant praised slavery. More than 69 viewers complained about the outburst on
Shipwrecked , which occurred on a pre-recorded episode seen by 1.2 viewers on Sunday night.
One contestant, Lucy Buchanan, a former public schoolgirl, said she was "for slavery" and
said black people were "really bad". Buchanan went on to make offensive remarks about the overweight describing them as "disgusting and offensive". She admitted she was racist and went into a tirade about the people making a
"complete mess" of Britain.
A Channel 4 spokesman said the comments, filmed five months ago, came from a "very young woman" who had led a "closeted existence" and that, after interacting with the other contestants,
she changes her view. Other contestants reprimand her and say they disagree with her, the spokesman said. Over the course of the series it becomes clear that her views change. It is quite a justified portrayal.
Ofcom have now received 540 complaints about Shipwrecked
Shipwrecked cleared over racist comments
Ofcom found the complaints to be not in breach in June 2007 (See Ofwatch)
came under fire from nutters after it announced plans for a £200,000 TV documentary devoted to the word "cunt"
The programme, tentatively titled I love The C-Word , is billed as examining why the word has become more mainstream
in recent years.
Shadow Culture Secretary Hugo Swire and John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons Culture Select Committee, attacked the plans.
Swire said: People expect high standards from the BBC and many might well be offended by
effectively subsidising programmes of this nature through the licence fee. The change of language is an entirely good thing to look at... BUT ...I don't see why they have to sensationalise the subject. I'm sure they can have a stimulating debate
about the change of language without resorting to the crude and baser words.
Whittingdale said: I have a general principle that I do not condemn programmes until I have seen them... BUT... the BBC have got to recognise this is a
word that still offends a large number of people.
The programme is being made for BBC3 by the independent production company North One Television. Its presenter, who is expected to be a
comedian, rather than an academic, will interview pundits, academics and artists about the use of the word over the past 30 years and the word itself will be broadcast uncensored.
Contributors will include feminist academic Germaine Greer and Eve
Ensler, the author of The Vagina Monologues, an acclaimed stage play which features women talking about their genitals.
Both the BBC and North One claimed it will not be sensationalist. A spokeswoman for the programme said: It will look at how
a word that was considered completely unacceptable has moved into the mainstream, particularly by younger people. The tone will be a serious exploration of the word.