Melon Farmers Original Version

UK TV and Radio News

2011: Jan-March

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30th March   

Appropriate Adult...

Judged inappropriate by Fred West victim
Link Here

Fred West's daughter Anne Marie Davis has criticised, Appropriate Adult , an ITV drama on how the serial killer and his wife, Rosemary, were brought to justice.

Davis, whose mother Rena Costello and half-sisters Charmaine and Heather were all murdered, says the two-part show will revive deeply traumatic memories for the families of the Wests' victims.

I felt physically sick when I heard about the plans to turn the tragic events which devastated so many people's lives into a TV drama.

I haven't spoken about this for 10 years, and the only reason I am speaking now is because I want ITV to realise they will be causing unimaginable distress to the families of the young girls who were murdered.

No one should kid themselves. The object of this drama is to make money. But the programme makers have to recognise that a lot of vulnerable young women died.

They were real people and their loved ones are real people too who are still suffering and their wounds will only be reopened by a TV drama like this.

Appropriate Adult, is to focus on the period between Fred West's arrest and his suicide in prison on New Year's Day 1995, as he awaited trial for 12 murders.

An ITV spokeswoman said:

Appropriate Adult is a factual drama which focuses on the involvement of Janet Leach who was appointed as appropriate adult in the police interviews Fred West gave during the investigation.

We have sought to contact as many relatives and victims as we could with assistance from the police, to let them know about the project and try to address any concerns they may have.

We have conducted dozens of interviews with individuals directly involved in the case over several years. It is certainly not ITV's wish to cause distress to the families of the Wests' victims, or their children, and Appropriate Adult does not contain any recreation of the actual crimes themselves. But we believe the factual drama genre is a valid form in which to explore and throw new light on real events.


25th March   

The Christian Institute Recommends...

Wuthering Heights on Radio 3
Link Here

Emily Bronte's much-loved novel Wuthering Heights has been adapted by BBC Radio 3 to include foul language.

The station's new adaptation will feature Heathcliff and Cathy, two of the book's central characters, swearing as they argue.

While radio broadcasts are not bound by a 9pm watershed, stations are not supposed to air unsuitable material when youngsters are likely to be listening. Adult

There are concerns that school pupils who are studying the book could listen to the adaptation unaware of the BBC's addition of adult content.

Playwright and theatre director Jonathan Holloway has defended his adaptation of the 1847 classic. He said:

For me Wuthering Heights is a story of violent obsession, and a tortuous unfulfilled relationship. This is not a Vaseline-lensed experience. That's what I wanted to elbow out, this idea that it's the cosy greatest love story ever told. It's not.

The f-words are part of my attempt to shift the production to left of field, and to help capture the shock that was associated with the original book when it was published.

A spokesman for Radio 3 said:

The use of strong language by some characters in this production was not undertaken lightly. Language warnings will be broadcast at the beginning of the drama.

The programme is set to air at 8pm on Sunday on Radio 3.


11th March   

Updated: Dirty Dancing...

Nutters of the Parents TV Council take Glee in a good whinge
Link Here

The Parents Television Council is up in arms about the latest episode of TV show Glee , which featured Gwyneth Paltrow opening up her shirt, provocative dancing provocatively and two students talking about making a sex tape.

Dan Isett, the group's director of public policy, tells The Hollywood Reporter the scenes he watched were pretty appalling.

Most notably was the discussion between a couple of students about wanting to become famous by making a sex tape, said Isett, referring to a couple who decided not to make a tape after a teacher informed them it would be child pornography because they're under 18. Exactly what kind of message is that?

Isett also whinged about the scene in which Paltrow and several students ripped open their shirts while dancing suggestively to Do You Wanna Touch Me:

If you had a real-life instance of that, I think it's fair to say the teacher involved would no longer be a teacher. But somehow it's acceptable for a fictional teacher to do this. Again, this is a real problem. Real-world teachers don't lap dance with their students.

The Parents Television Council didn't appreciate the show mocking the celibacy club.

From the beginning of the episode, it was pretty clear the gist of it was going to be that abstinence is off the table and we're going to make the celibacy club look like the nerds convention essentially. There was very little doubt -- despite the sort of lip service the show gave to responsible sexual activity -- that the gist of the show was lap dances with students is cool, the celibacy club is not, and when it's presented in that way, it really cheapens whatever discussion there is about consequence and responsibility.

Update: A Touch Too Much

8th March 2011. See  article from

The episode of Glee has also hit the new for the use of the Gary Glitter's  Do You Wanna Touch Me

Channel 4 has confirmed that it will go ahead with the screening of the episode complete with the song. A Channel 4 spokeswoman said: The scene is editorially justified within the programme and we do not seek to censor material in the proper context.

The song will also feature on a forthcoming album of music from the series to be released in the UK next month.

The song has already made it into the American iTunes top 30. Shamed Glitter is expected to pick up royalties from sales.

Children's charity Kidscape has said the inclusion of the song is wholly inappropriate .


9th March   

Updated: Porn Again...

Jacqui Smith voices her concerns about porn in Britain
Link Here
Full story: Porn Again...Jacqui Smith's radio documentary

The BBC introduces the programme as:

In a documentary featuring explicit language and sexual content, former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith investigates pornography, meeting those who make, watch and commentate on it.

5th March 2011. See  review from by Steven Baxter

So we got to hear Jacqui's reaction to bukkake -- All she is, that woman, is a receptacle. Is this bukkake? I think it's horrible --, a chandelier made of penises and her first ever viewing of a porn film. It's anal sex with a man with a very big penis... She doesn't look as if she's being forced to do anything she doesn't want to... there's not a lot of story... says Jacqui.

It's quite odd to think of a middle-aged married person never having seen pornography, or having experienced it; even odder still to think of a public representative or politician legislating on matters they haven't directly experienced. After all, Smith went out on the streets to see crime fighting for herself while home secretary, so the curiosity is there, beyond a photo opportunity, surely.

As one interviewee points out, here's someone who legislated as home secretary without ever having seen adult entertainment; Jacqui's response is that she didn't try hard drugs but she had to legislate on that too.

But this was a documentary very much about opinions, rather than evidence. Throughout, Jacqui was keen to present her idea that pornography had a deleterious effect on users (there's that drugs link again) without ever really getting to the bottom of why she felt that way.

...Read the full review

5th March 2011. See review from Melon Farmers Forum by Phantom

The supposed piece was quite hideous.

I kid you not, at one point she consulted a professor for feminist liberation and theology . Yes. Feminism and theology in one package. A double whammy.

Of course she also interviewed the left's ever convenient intellectual Allan de Botton. Anyone who knows of him, knows that he is an avid champion of social interventionism. In short, he argues that we need nannying for our own good. So what a coincidence that Smith chose to interview him on porn. His conclusion? Porn needs banning for our own good. Anyone surprised? Please speak up if you are.

To prove herself even handed, she interviewed porn producers, primarily Phil and Cathy Barry. But that was more a question of who they were and what they produced. Not the nasty, foreign stuff . There seemed little doubt that such appearances of the pornsters were not there to add to the argument but to try and make the program more entertaining. In short they were the light relief who added sauce to the program. For rather tellingly no one was interviewed who would argue on a deeper level why porn should be legal. No one was allowed to question the idea of prohibition. There was never a serious pro argument forwarded by anyone. But plenty of contra .

All the while, did Jacqui Smith talk to trafficked women, forced into porn? Any crack addicts appearing solely to feed their habit? Oddly, no. None of it. After all, where would she find these fictitious creatures? But of course, there was everlasting editorial about her concerns .

Again, there was the endless stream of verbiage about what effect this pornography is having on the viewers. Was any science applied to this? Why bother with science if you can just speak into the mike and voice concern ?

...Read the full review

Comment: Mediawatch-UK have their two pennyworth

9th March 2011. See  article from  

David Turtle, spokesman for Mediawatch UK, said:

The adult entertainment industry is only concerned about its profits.

It's naive to think it is going to be effective in helping teenagers who are at risk from this material.

If Ms Smith was so concerned about the issue, why didn't she do more to deal with it when she was Home Secretary?

Offsite: BBC must be unbalanced to broadcast Jacqui Smith's anti-porn propaganda

9th March 2011. See  article from by Jane Fae ozimek, Thanks to pbr

The BBC was today accused of ignoring its own charter requirement to offer balance by coming down firmly on the side of opt-in in respect of internet porn regulation.

An alliance of the concerned drawn from academics and individuals representing the adult film industry added their voices to a chorus of dissent, claiming that Porn Again , a documentary produced by former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and aired last Thursday, was biased, inaccurate, and went out of its way to sideline any voices at odds with its central thesis that pornography is harmful.

Speaking to The Register today, Jerry Barnett, Chairman of the Adult Industry Trade Association (AIT), said: The documentary appears to have been a piece of pro-censorship propaganda, backed by the full establishment weight of the BBC, at a time when freedom of speech is under concerted attack from multiple directions, by our government and many others around the world.

...Read the full article


2nd March   

Offsite: My View of Pornography...

Jacqui Smith outlines her findings to be reported in Porn Again radio documentary
Link Here
Full story: Porn Again...Jacqui Smith's radio documentary

...As I challenged what I was seeing at the Erotica show and on the covers of DVDs I was, of course, challenged back about my lack of personal knowledge about pornography. I've seen magazines and books, but I had never watched a film.

So the next weird outing was to watch porn on a borrowed laptop. I already knew that porn was widespread on the internet, but I was genuinely surprised and shocked at how easily available it is: no proof of age, no credit card, no need to identify yourself. And, as I learned at the British Board of Film Classification, there is no classification, so no restriction on what you can view -- group sex, double penetration, anal sex, scenes filmed to look as if strangers were being asked for sex in the street, some use of restraints -- there seemed to be little limit on what was freely available.

As Home Secretary, I changed the law to criminalise the possession of violent and extreme pornographic images, but pornographers continue to push the boundaries. Even in the pornography submitted for classification by the BBFC, 25 per cent of films need to be cut -- usually because they show women being forcibly restrained, abused or injured.

...Read the full article

Offsite: Coffee and Pastries with Jacqui

See also Behind the scenes of Porn Again from


23rd February   

Viewer 'Fury'...

One woman tweets about pikey comment on Channel 5's The Wright Stuff
Link Here

Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood has caused tabloid 'fury' by calling the gypsy community pikeys and demanding they are banned from TV.

He was on Channel 5's The Wright Stuff discussing Big Fat Gypsy Wedding star Paddy Doherty.

Craig said: Be a gypsy and stick to your codes and don't involve us. And get off our TVs. All those pikeys though, darling. Do we really need them?

Show host Matthew Wright said: That's an offensive term to gypsies like using the N-word to black people. You will have to apologise.

Craig said: I do apologise to the nation for the pikey remarks. I take it back.

'Disgusted viewers' pledged to complain to TV watchdog Ofcom. Alison Perry said on Twitter: Craig Revel Horwood just told ‘pikeys’ to ‘get off telly’. Hello, Ofcom.

Is this the weakest excuse ever to run a 'viewer fury' piece about a TV programme?


22nd February   

No Serious Discussion, Just a Crappy Sound Bite...

Mediawatch-UK recommend Emmerdale's assisted suicide storyline
Link Here

A paralysed character in ITV's soap Emmerdale is to die in a 'controversial' assisted suicide storyline, The Sun reveals.

Industry whingers Mediawatch-UK 'slammed' the storyline. Spokesman David Turtle said: Emmerdale has been trying to push the boundaries for some time just to boost ratings. It's a soap, not a serious discussion about a serious topic.


22nd February

 Offsite: BBC Comedy Should Not be Afraid to Offend...

Link Here
Full story: Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross...Winding up Andrew Sachs and Voluptua
But is!

See article from


20th February   

A Load of Wank...

Mediawatch-UK recommend Jamie's Dream School
Link Here

Channel 4 is facing a nutter 'storm' of criticism over Jamie Oliver's new TV series which features two teenage boys being asked to produce sperm samples for analysis in a science class.

The scenes will be featured in Jamie's Dream School , in which he attempts to turn around a group of troubled teenagers by sending them to a school run by celebrities.

The controversial biological test was set up by leading fertility expert Professor Robert Winston to interest the 20 pupils, who have been removed or excluded from mainstream education, in the excitement of science .

In the one-hour programme, to be screened next month, the 70-year-old Labour peer asks two boys in the mixed class of youngsters aged 16 to 18 to leave the room to produce a sperm sample for investigation under microscopic analysis where it will be compared with the sperm of other animals.

Lord Winston, who has presented a string of BBC documentaries on human development, admitted in a newspaper article:

It was as close to the edge as you could get but that's how I wanted my lessons to be. I got some boys to leave the room and come back with a sample of their own seminal fluid for the class to look at under the microscope. Instantly kids of both sexes were very excited. I could have brought samples with me into the classroom but everyone knows that that wouldn't have been the same as looking at your own body. Every scientist, if he is good at his job will have experimented on his own body at some point.

A Channel 4 source insisted viewers would not see the samples being collected. A spokesman said all the pupils involved in the programme were given a fortnight's warning about the experiment, which took place while the show was being filmed in North London at the end of last year, and could have opted out. He went on: Written consent was given by the parents of the boys providing samples. All of the students were happy with the lesson and found it enlightening.

But David Turtle, spokesman for the pressure group Mediawatch-UK, said:

This is just a cheap way to get boost ratings and increase advertising revenues. From our point of view it's condoning a form of behaviour in a classroom situation. If you're going to have a proper discussion about reproduction and sexuality you don't do it like this.

We have serious concerns about the programme and we have concerns about Jamie Oliver as a role model for young people. Mr Winston's involvement seems very unusual.

Former Home Office Minister Ann Widdecombe:

I think it's hugely distasteful. I am amazed Channel 4 are letting it go out. It is horrible.

It's yet another step towards the road that there is no limit to what you can put on television these days.


16th February   

Update: Ready for Complaints...

Channel 4's Dispatches uncovers intolerance being taught in islamic schools
Link Here

An Islamic school in Birmingham says it is drafting a complaint to Ofcom in light of a Channel 4 Dispatches show.

Lessons in Hatred and Violenc e, aired on Monday evening, showed footage of a preacher at Darul Uloom School with extreme views.

Dispatches said it stood by its investigation and that numerous adults had been filmed teaching contempt for other religions.

The programme captured a class leader making offensive remarks about Hindus. He ranted that: Disbelievers are the worst creatures .

Head teacher Mujahid Aziz said the school had been misrepresented.

A spokesman for Dispatches, which used a hidden camera installed by a reporter at the school, said its investigation had shown footage of numerous adults, on different occasions, teaching pupils as young as 11 contempt for other religions and for wider society: We stand by our investigation and think the programme speaks for itself .

See  article from

Meanwhile police have arrested a man over alleged assaults on children at aMarkazi Jamia mosque in Keighley, West Yorkshire.

The Dispatches documentary filmed what appeared to be a preacher hitting and kicking children during Koran lessons at the school.

West Yorkshire Police confirmed they had arrested a 59-year-old man in connection with the incident after viewing the secretly filmed footage.

Update: Charged

25th May 2011. See  article from

A 59-year-old man has been charged with 10 offences of common assault on children at a mosque, police said.

The charges follow a police investigation into allegations of assaults on children made in a Channel 4 documentary broadcast earlier this year.

The Dispatches programme, Lessons in Hate and Violence, secretly filmed a man allegedly hitting and kicking children during Qur'an lessons at the Markazi Jamia mosque school in Keighley, West Yorkshire, in December 2010.

West Yorkshire police said the man, who was arrested in February, had been released on bail to appear before Keighley magistrates on 2 June.

Update: Jailed

27th November 2011. See  article from

The religious teacher who was caught on a secret camera kicking and slapping children in a Keighley mosque was jailed for 10 weeks.

Sabir Hussain admitted four charges of assaulting boys at the Markazi Jamia Mosque, in. Keighley, West Yorkshire, as they learned The Koran.

He was arrested after secret filming was screened on a Channel 4 documentary earlier this year.

He immediately lodged an appeal against his sentence but an application for bail was rejected.


16th February   

My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding...

Complaints about the Channel 4 documentary series
Link Here

Irish Travellers living in Britain have attacked the Channel 4's My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding , claiming it fuels hatred and suspicion of Traveller communities.

The Irish Traveller Movement in Britain called upon Channel 4 to give Britain's Gypsies and Travellers air time for a right of reply: We are hearing every day distressing accounts from parents whose children are being bullied and called names. Venue bookings are being cancelled. We are hearing about the deep sense of embarrassment and shame many have been left with by such a narrow, misrepresentative and unjust portrayal of their community and culture.

Romany Gypsies have also complained that the programme creates the impression that the only Gypsies in Britain are Irish Travellers.

Travellers' Times has reported the programme to the broadcast watchdog Ofcom. The website has argued that the portrayal of the Gypsy community is not only inaccurate but also misleads the audience and leads to harm and offence .

One of the most controversial parts of the series is the concept of grabbing , where young men physically grab young women in a dating-ritual at weddings.

Channel 4 has defended itself against the criticism. In a statement, it said: The series features a mix of Irish Travellers and Romany Gypsies and the programme makes a clear distinction between these different groups. Whenever a person is introduced, we are careful to identify who they are and what community they come from. The series is an observational documentary and made predominantly from the perspective of Gypsies and Travellers talking about their own experiences. We have intentionally avoided many commonly held stereotypes and attempted to provide a balanced view.


15th February

 Offsite: Nutters See No Joy in Sex...

Link Here
Full story: The Sex Education Show...Channel 4's sex education winds up the whingers
Safermedia not impressed by channel 4's mix of education and entertainment

See article from


14th February   

Update: Complaints Department in Overdrive...

BBC response to complaints about Mexican jokes during Top Gear
Link Here
Full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

Top Gear, comments about Mexicans

We received complaints from some viewers who were unhappy with comments made about Mexicans in the programme on 30 January 2011.

The producers of Top Gear have apologised to the Mexican Ambassador for the comments made about him during the show. Whilst the majority of the piece on the Mastretta had been discussed in advance with BBC Editorial Policy staff, the comments about him were ad libbed by the presenters during the recording. The BBC's Editorial Guidelines are very clear about singling out individuals for irreverent/mocking/ comments. Those guidelines were not adhered to and the Top Gear production team has apologised for this. The comments about the Ambassador have been removed from all repeats of the programme.

With regard to the other comments made about Mexicans, these were indeed playing off a stereotype, and that practice is something that regular viewers of Top Gear will be familiar with, as the presenters often make jokes about the perceived characteristics of various nationalities when talking about the cars made in those countries. It is something that has been done in the past with the French, the Germans, the Americans and the Italians, so Mexico was not singled out for special treatment in this case.

Comments made by the Top Gear presenters are clearly exaggerated for comic effect - to imply that a sports car is no good because it will spend all day asleep is self evidently absurd, and not meant to be taken as vindictive. The Top Gear audience understands this clearly and treats these remarks accordingly.

The UK prides itself on being a tolerant nation, but one of the contributing factors towards that tolerance is the fact that jokes made around national stereotyping are commonplace, and are indeed a robust part of our national humour. Typically the most comedic ones are negative - for example our own comedians make material out of the fact that the British are supposed to be terrible cooks, terrible romantics, and forever happy to come second. In fact, some of the more humorous complaints we have received from Mexico are based on stereotypical retorts, with one excellent one in particular referring to the presenters as effete tea drinkers.

In line with that British tradition, stereotype-based comedy is allowed within BBC guidelines, in programmes where the audience has clear expectations of that being the case, as it indeed is with Top Gear. Of course it may appear offensive to those who have not watched the programme or who are unfamiliar with its humour.

It was not the intention of the programme to offend Mexicans but rather to use a clearly unbelievable stereotype of Mexicans to humorous effect.


13th February   


Rastamouse children's cartoon promotes diversity to some, and racism to the easily offended others
Link Here

He is an animated reggae-singing mouse who has become a hit for the BBC, entertaining children with his attempts to fight crime and spread love and respect.

Yet dreadlocked Rastamouse has provoked more than a hundred complaints to the corporation with parents expressing fears the show is racist and encouraging the use of slang.


11th February   

Update: Top Gear Top Notch Mexican Offence...

Lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight, and easily offended
Link Here
Full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

The BBC has apologised for remarks made on the television programme, Top Gear , that caused 'outrage' in Mexico.

The comments about Mexicans were made when they were discussing Mexican sports cars. Reviewing the Mastretta, Richard Hammond said vehicles reflected national characteristics: Mexican cars are just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight, leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat. The presenters, known for their edgy jibes, then described Mexican food as refried sick .

Jeremy Clarkson added that he was confident he would not receive any complaints about their comments because the Mexican ambassador would be asleep.

But somebody on the ambassador's staff must have been awake, as the ambassador demanded an apology, calling the remarks offensive, xenophobic and humiliating .

In a letter to Mexico's ambassador in London, the BBC said it was sorry if it had offended some people, but said jokes based on national stereotyping were part of British national humour.  

Our own comedians make jokes about the British being terrible cooks and terrible romantics, and we in turn make jokes about the Italians being disorganised and over dramatic, the French being arrogant and the Germans being over-organised, the BBC said. It added that stereotype-based comedy was allowed within BBC guidelines in programmes where the audience knew they could expect it, as was the case with Top Gear . Whilst it may appear offensive to those who have not watched the programme or who are unfamiliar with its humour, the executive producer has made it clear to the ambassador that that was absolutely not the show's intention .

Hundreds of Mexicans contacted the BBC Spanish-language website BBC Mundo to protest about the remark  More expressed outrage in e-mails to Mexican newspapers and websites, where the Top Gear jibes have received huge coverage. The matter was also raised in the Mexican senate, where lawmakers were considering a motion of censure.

An all-party group of British MPs also urged the BBC to apologise, calling the remarks ignorant, derogatory and racist .

Update: Too Close to Home for Comfort

11th February 2011. See  article from

Scenes in which Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May poked fun at Mexicans will be cut before the show is broadcast in the United States next week. The show is broadcast on the BBC America channel


10th February   

Update: Mixed Messages...

Sex educators not impressed by channel 4's mix of education and entertainment
Link Here
Full story: The Sex Education Show...Channel 4's sex education winds up the whingers

Dr Petra Boynton wrote on her blog:

Over the past few weeks parents, practitioners, young people and journalists have been concerned about the Channel 4 series The Joy of Teen Sex . This has led to a number of us deciding to complain to the Channel and recommend a way forward to ensure future programming is improved.

Below is a copy of our letter, sent to the Chief Executive (David Abraham) and Commissioning Editors:

We are a group of professionals who are pro-sex education and accessible sexual and reproductive healthcare. We believe in accurate and open discussions about relationships and sex, and feel television can be an effective and powerful medium for sex education programmes that are entertaining as well as informative.

For the past decade Channel 4 has been making programmes addressing sex and relationships issues for teens and adults including: The Sex Inspectors (2004), Orgasmatron/Body Shock (2005), The Dark Side of Modern Love (2005), Am I A Sex Addict (2007), The Sex Education Sho w (2008-present), and most recently The Joy of Teen Sex . This clearly demonstrates a commitment on behalf of the Channel which we feel is important given how little coverage these topics receive.

While these programmes may have attracted high viewing figures, they have been criticised by therapists, healthcare providers, and educators for portraying inaccurate or outdated and misleading representations of sex education, healthcare, clinical treatments and therapies.

Many of us have been approached to participate on these programmes, or publicise them to our colleagues/clients. We have repeatedly shared our worries about the direction programmes appear to be taking, although have had little success in having those concerns heard.

The recent series The Joy of Teen Sex has been even more problematic than previous similar shows, raising complaint and concern from sexual and reproductive healthcare staff, sex educators, youth workers, sex researchers, parents and young people. In particular they have been worried by:

  • the range of topics covered, which may not be representative of the needs/questions teens may have
  • some of the skills and qualifications of the professionals used in the programme
  • the advice given to programme participants which left little room for exploration, choice, and the right to refuse sexual activity that doesn't appeal to them
  • misleading and/or factually incorrect information, and frequently used unreliable statistics to back up points made. For example the inaccurate claim made at the start of each programme that the average teen has had three sexual partners by the time they reach 16. In fact reputable research finds most teens have not had intercourse before they are 16.(1).
  • little attention paid to communication, confidence, respect, romance, affection, closeness
  • an overemphasis on sexual techniques and products
  • offering options that may not be realistic for viewers, particularly younger teens or those on a low income
  • valuing the televisual over more relevant issues to young people -- e.g. exploring vajazzling
  • consistent muddling of key terms (e.g. vagina used when vulva is meant), or using outdated terms such as hymen
  • inaccurate representation of what sex education is like, what sexual health services deliver, and how sex education and healthcare professionals should act. For example a medic making a client cry by showing her graphic images of STIs; telling young women to expect bleeding as part of losing virginity; or not making clear the difference between normal vaginal discharge and an STI
  • mixed messages from programme makers in their casting calls to young people/parents, and what professionals being consulted for the series were told it would offer (see Appendices 1 and 2)
  • an overall tone that encouraged teen blaming, slut shaming and homophobia, while perpetuating messages of hegemonic masculinities and narrow sexual norms
  • not listening to numerous professional concerns during the development stage
  • no awareness of, or respect for, cultural diversity
  • producers of the show using twitter to promote the programme while simultaneously dismissing professional and parent complaints of the series, referring to anyone who questioned the series as haters (see also Appendix 3)

We are concerned the Commissioners and Channel Four have not shown due diligence over this series. It seems to be fitting a pattern of programme development where viewing figures are prioritised over empowerment but where programmes are still marketed as educational . It does not appear to fit with the Channel's Public Service Remit or Corporate Responsibility.

We are worried misinformation about sexual and reproductive healthcare and education has been grossly misrepresented, leading to parents feeling anxious, young people's right to accurate information not being delivered, and professional advice being ignored at all stages of programme development.

The right of young people to comprehensive sex and relationships education is still contested in this country. Many individuals and organizations oppose sex education on the grounds it will sexualise their children, claim it will not give accurate information, or will encourage sexual activity rather than encouraging thoughtful decision-making about relationships. For this reason it is vital that any programme claiming to provide education about sex and sexuality does not provide fuel for these arguments. Sadly we have seen reactions to The Joy of Teen Sex in public discussions and on places like twitter that indicate the programme is already being used as evidence of the failings of sex education.

As a result we fear this style of programme making could lead to young people and adults not getting the sexual and relationships advice they need; making the job of healthcare providers, therapists, educators, parents and youth workers more difficult; and causing distress to young people and parents. We have been overwhelmed with emails from anxious teens and parents who support sex education, but are concerned about the messages of teenagers, sex, relationships and sexuality portrayed in this series.

Channel 4 clearly intends to continue making programmes about sex and relationships. We are hoping as Channel Directors you will wish these future broadcasts to be accurate, entertaining and empowering. To ensure this happens we are calling on Channel 4 to establish an advisory group made up of sexual and reproductive health practitioners, sex educators, youth workers, parents and young people to oversee the development of future programming and ensure that it is entertaining, accurate and empowering. This idea is endorsed by Brook, the young people's sexual health service. All of the signatories below are happy to help you with this endeavor, and are now expecting you to listen to our concerns, and promise quality sex and relationships broadcasting in the future. We look forward to hearing your response soon.

Signed Petra Boynton PhD, Social Psychologist and Sex Researcher, University College London Dr Stuart Flanagan, Genito Urinary Physician Justin Hancock, Bish Training, trainer and consultant Lisa Hallgarten, Director, Education For Choice Wendy Savage MBBCh FRCOG MSc (Public Health) Hon DSc Marge Berer, Editor, Reproductive Health Matters Romance Academy -- a nation-wide, holistic, relationships and sex education initiative Dr. Meg Barker, Sex therapist and social psychologist, The Open University Chris Ashford, Principal Lecturer in Law, University of Sunderland Alice Hoyle, Sex and Relationship Education Advisory Teacher Alison Terry, Second year student, Applied Community and Youth Work Studies, University of Manchester K. Barratt, Second year student, Applied Community and Youth Work Studies, University of Manchester Becca Thompson, BSc MA COT Steven Norris, Student Teacher Clare Bale, RGN, BA (Hons),MPH, PhD Candidate, University of Sheffield Dr. Lesley Hoggart, Principal Research Fellow, School of Health and Social Care University of Greenwich Matthew Greenall, advisor on international HIV & sexual health programmes David McQueen, International Speaker and Youth Advocate Janet Horrocks, Healthy Schools Project Officer Joelle Brady, MSc, Researcher Dr Jayne Kavanagh, Medical Ethics and Law Unit Lead, UCL Medical School and Associate Specialist in Sexual and Reproductive Health, Camden Provider Services David Evans, Researcher and Chief Executive SRE Project Peter Bone, Chair of the Advisory Council, PSHE Association

Update: Channel 4 Response

3rd July 2011. See  Channel 4 Response from


9th February   

Dancing on Thin Ice...

Trivial Dancing on Ice spat leads to thousands of viewer complaints
Link Here

An onscreen spat during the Dancing on Ice talent show seems to have struck a chord with complainers.

Karen Barber, who is the head coach on the ITV show after being axed as a judge, had tried to defend war hero Johnson Beharry following a series of cutting remarks.

But judge Jason Gardine Gardiner snapped back: If your opinion still mattered you'd be on the panel.

He told friends he was angry that producers had forced him to apologise on live TV following his outburst. A source said: Jason was furious he had been made to apologise. He kept saying: "Everyone in Britain has gone PC mad. Everyone in the UK is so scared of being offended, it's going to get to the point where you won't be able to say anything on TV at all. The whole thing is ridiculous, the world has gone absolutely mad".

The Daily Mail reports that 3,000 viewers complained about his attack to ITV and Ofcom.


8th February   

Updated: Banana Suckers...

Supporting the hype for Rhianna's new single S and M
Link Here

Rihanna's new single S&M has provoked TV censors across the world. It has been axed from the BBC's daytime radio playlist in Britain and the promo is said to be banned in 11 countries.

The song's suggestive lyrics and the accompanying video - in which the she is seen writhing in latex, tying a man to a bed, and sucking a banana - are also subject to an age restriction on

Britain's Daily Mirror reports that BBC bosses have refused to allow DJs on its flagship station Radio 1 to play the song before 7pm. A BBC spokesman tells the publication, We are waiting for an edited version before deciding whether it will be played in the daytime.

Update: S&M too much for the BBC

8th February 2011. Based on article from

Now it seems that even the song's title is giving the BBC fits.

In the latest U.K. Top 40 Singles chart, which is compiled by the British-based Official Charts Company and was unveiled Sunday on Radio 1. In this week's chart, S&M officially debuts, but, strangely enough, it did so with the title Come On.

Are you fucking kidding me??? I'm on it! Rihanna wrote in one tweet after being asked by a fan about the new title. When asked by another fan if she was OK with the change, she replied: Absolutely Not!

Update: BBC edit

10th February 2011. See  article from

The BBC Edit broadcast as Come On , edits out all references to 'sex', 'chains' and 'whips'.


26th January   

Updated: South Park...

Smaller, Shorter and UNCUT?
Link Here

Comedy central Extra is showing a rundown of their favourite 100 South Park episodes.

I've only really stepped in and out, so can't tell if this mistake has happened in this run. The episode You have 0 friends [After being forced to create a FaceBook account, Stan finds himself in the middle of a fad that has gone way too far] was shown tonight (Monday Jan 24th) completely unbleeped. 8 F-bombs, and other profanities slipped through the censor dragnet.

Obviously this isn't something Comedy Central UK has done. As the shows are edited stateside then sent out around the world (even home video versions are edited). Does anyone know if this episode aired in the US in this form?

As US television is considerably more anal and narrow minded than the UK where language is concerned.

Update: The Uncensored Tale Of Scrotie McBuggerballs

26th January 2011. From Jamie

The other day Comedy Central showed The Tale Of Scrotie McBuggerballs completely uncensored all the f's and everything else. It was the first time I know of them showing an unedited version. In the States, like here, it's always been the censored version.

The US and UK DVDs are now released uncensored. What will happen it comes to Season 14 and [the Mohammed Teddy Bear] episodes 200 and 201 remains to be seen.


25th January   

Update: People's Court...

Jon Gaunt continues his legal battle to liken excessive political correctness to Nazism
Link Here
Full story: Jon Gaunt and Talksport Nazis...Talksport sack radio presenter over Nazi jibe

The radio presenter Jon Gaunt who called a councillor a Nazi live on air has won the right to appeal a High Court decision which branded his interview offensive and abusive.

Gaunt launched the appeal after an earlier judicial review failed to overturn a decision made by Ofcom that he had breached the broadcasting code.

The broadcast regulator upheld complaints against Gaunt after he called Redbridge councillor Michael Stark a Nazi and an ignorant pig during an interview on his TalkSport radio show in November, 2008. Gaunt, who was in care as a child, was angry as he felt that the chance of finding a foster home would be lost under the new policy.

Gaunt then sought a judicial review claiming the broadcast regulator unlawfully interfered with his freedom of expression. However, Sir Anthony May and Justice Blair dismissed his judicial review proceedings at London's High Court in July last year saying that: the essential point is that the offensive and abusive nature of the broadcast was gratuitous, having no factual content or justification.

Lord Justice Thomas, granting permission to appeal, said Gaunt should be entitled to argue whether the High Court had followed the correct principles.


23rd January   

An Explosion of Easy Offence...

BBC apologise over making light of atom bomb survivor
Link Here

The BBC has apologised after Japan's embassy complained over jokes on an episode of comedy TV quiz show QI.

Panellists made light of the experience of Tsutomu Yamaguchi who survived the Hiroshima atomic bomb in World War II and the Nagasaki one three days later.

Presenter Stephen Fry described him as the unluckiest man in the world .

Japanese viewers reportedly contacted diplomatic staff after the programme, featuring comedians Alan Davies and Rob Brydon as panellists, was broadcast on BBC Two last month.

The BBC said it was sorry for any offence caused and would be replying shortly to a letter received from the Japanese embassy in London.

A spokesman for the corporation added: QI never sets out to cause offence with any of the people or subjects it covers, however on this occasion, given the sensitivity of the subject matter for Japanese viewers, we understand why they did not feel it appropriate for inclusion in the programme.


20th January   

Update: More 4 Fun...

Channel 4 stick with Frankie Boyle
Link Here
Full story: Frankie Boyle...Whinges about Frankie Boyle and Mock the Week

Frankie Boyle, the irreverent host of Channel 4 comedy series Tramadol Nights , may be the subject of an ongoing Ofcom investigation – but that hasn't stopped the channel commissioning the star to produce a new show.

The edgy star is now set to return to the screens, although it is expected Tramadol Nights itself will be discontinued.


11th January

 Offsite: That's Life...

Link Here
Full story: Sexualisation...Sexualisation as reported by Linda Papadopoulos
Is modern life too sexy for our children?

See article from


10th January   

Updated: Moon Baby...

3400 complaints about baby stealing plot in EastEnders
Link Here
Full story: Eastenders...Eastenders TV programme complaints

Around 3,400 viewers have complained to the BBC about an EastEnders storyline involving cot death and a baby swap.

In an episode on New Year's Eve, Ronnie Branning swapped her deceased baby for the new born son of Kat Moon.

Complainants have branded the hard-hitting plotline insensitive , irresponsible and desperate . The complaints have been received since the storyline was revealed in November.

One midwife described it as so far from realism it will be the last time I will watch this programme.

EastEnders executive producer, Bryan Kirkwood, said: We appreciate this is a challenging storyline and have taken care to ensure viewers were aware of the content in advance of transmission.

Update: Ofcom Unimpressed

7th January 2011. See  article from

Ofcom has confirmed that it is unlikely to launch an official investigation into EastEnders ' baby swap storyline.

According to the Daily Mail, the TV censor Ofcom has so far received 374 complaints.

However, a spokesperson for Ofcom said: We assess whether programmes have gone against the Broadcasting Code. At the moment, we don't think that's the case. The clause it might go against would be 'general harm and offence'. The representative added that Ofcom will wait until the storyline is over before making a final decision over whether action will be taken.

Meanwhile the Independent notes that more than 6,000 EastEnders complaints have now been logged with the BBC.

Update: Gone Soft

8th January 2011. See  article from
See also article from

EastEnders bosses are to end the cot death storyline on a tender note to avoid distressing easily distressed viewers.

With complaints to the BBC standing at 8,400 – the most in the show's 25-year history – scriptwriters will make the conclusion soft and emotional .

Update: BBC response to complaints

10th January 2011. See article from

We appreciate this is a particularly emotive storyline and as with all such sensitive subject matters, we approached it with great care and attention, seeking guidance and advice from a number of experts in this field in order to ensure as realistic a portrayal as possible.

EastEnders has a long history of exploring difficult issues, and the storyline regarding Ronnie and Kat follows in this tradition.

We acknowledge that for some members of the audience this storyline will have particular resonance and significance, however we can assure viewers that it's not our intention to cause distress or upset, and we have ensured that key episodes are supported by the BBC Action Line in order for those affected by the storyline to be able to obtain information regarding sources of further help and advice.

It's important to note there is absolutely no inference that Ronnie's actions are in any way typical of a bereaved mother of a newborn baby. In her grief and desperation at the discovery that her much longed for baby has passed away, and finding herself in the exceptional circumstance of being alone with her neighbour's newborn son, Ronnie acted on impulse in the heat of the moment, without really knowing what she was doing, or considering the consequences or repercussions. On a wider sense, we were careful to select Ronnie, who we felt was the only character capable of acting in this way in a believable manner, following all the difficulties she's experienced in her life and the emotional toll this has put on her.

Over the coming weeks, we will see Ronnie and Kat each coming to terms with the loss of their babies, and explore how they re-build their lives in the wake of such tragedy. Viewers will see the situation resolve itself over the coming months.

We were careful to signal the nature of the content of the episodes to the audience in advance through publicity, programme billings, and continuity announcements.


8th January   

Updated: Moon Baby...

3400 complaints about baby stealing plot in EastEnders
Link Here
Full story: Eastenders...Eastenders TV programme complaints

Around 3,400 viewers have complained to the BBC about an EastEnders storyline involving cot death and a baby swap.

In an episode on New Year's Eve, Ronnie Branning swapped her deceased baby for the new born son of Kat Moon.

Complainants have branded the hard-hitting plotline insensitive , irresponsible and desperate . The complaints have been received since the storyline was revealed in November.

One midwife described it as so far from realism it will be the last time I will watch this programme.

EastEnders executive producer, Bryan Kirkwood, said: We appreciate this is a challenging storyline and have taken care to ensure viewers were aware of the content in advance of transmission.

Update: Ofcom Unimpressed

7th January 2011. See  article from

Ofcom has confirmed that it is unlikely to launch an official investigation into EastEnders ' baby swap storyline.

According to the Daily Mail, the TV censor Ofcom has so far received 374 complaints.

However, a spokesperson for Ofcom said: We assess whether programmes have gone against the Broadcasting Code. At the moment, we don't think that's the case. The clause it might go against would be 'general harm and offence'. The representative added that Ofcom will wait until the storyline is over before making a final decision over whether action will be taken.

Meanwhile the Independent notes that more than 6,000 EastEnders complaints have now been logged with the BBC.

Update: Gone Soft

8th January 2011. See  article from
See also article from

EastEnders bosses are to end the cot death storyline on a tender note to avoid distressing easily distressed viewers.

With complaints to the BBC standing at 8,400 – the most in the show's 25-year history – scriptwriters will make the conclusion soft and emotional .


7th January   

Big Brother TV Censor...

Big Brother heads the all time list of whinges to Ofcom
Link Here

The Metro has totted up the all time list of TV viewer complaints to Ofcom.

Running from 2004 to 2010 the totals reveal the most whinged about programmes as follows:

  1. Big Brother 57,942 viewer complaints
  2. X Factor 15,882
  3. Jerry Springer: The Opera 8,860
  4. Coronation Street 2,028
  5. Jonathan Ross & Russell Brand 1,943


2nd January

 Offsite: British comedy offensive?...

Link Here
Don't make me laugh!

See article from

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