The new BBC blockbuster Versailles is described by the Corporation as a delicious treat for viewers, but MPs and morality campaigners are 'outraged' by its nudity and sex scenes, and have described it as porn dressed up in a cravat and
The Daily Mail gushes:
The lavish French-made series, which depicts the decadent and debauched life of France's Sun King, Louis XIV, is set to be the most sexually graphic costume drama ever shown on
The drama produced by Canal Plus has been shown in France and caused immediate controversy about it being filmed in English.
In the Conservative MP and sound bite provider Andrew Bridgen whinged:
There are channels where, if you wish to view this sort of material, you would have to pay for it. BBC viewers don't have a choice. They have to pay for it whether they approve or not.
Is this an example of the
BBC dumbing down and seeking more sensationalised programming? That's an arms race to the bottom -- quite literally in this case.
Norman Wells, director of the morality campaign group Family Education Trust whinged:
Public service broadcasting is meant to be for the public benefit, but it is very difficult to see whose benefit is being served by showing such highly graphic and explicit scenes on TV.
Sam Burnett, of Mediawatch
Dressing up pornography and violence in a cravat and tights doesn't make it cultural.
The BBC is yet to confirm a broadcast time for the ten-part series, which is expected to be
screened in May. Asked if the BBC would be running the drama in full, a spokesman said: Why wouldn't we be? Sue Deeks, BBC head of programme acquisition, added: Versailles will be a delicious treat for BBC2 viewers.
Claude Knight, of the campaign group Kidscape has been kindly pointing out some of the most interesting highlights of BBC3.
Shows broadcast online since the move last month include Meet the Devotees which showed a disabled woman wearing just
her underwear and a coat in her wheelchair to satisfy fetishists as well as amputees making porn for able-bodied people.
Another graphic programme available is People Pay Me For My Underwear , which shows a young student selling her
knickers online to pay for her degree.
Other programmes include The Virtual Reality Virgin, which shows a debate about whether having virtual sex with a robot is cheating, and a short programme about sex work called Everybody Cries Their
First Time , where a young sex worker Posie discusses her traumatic first time .
Knight whinged :
We have to ask why the public's licence fee is being spent on channels
which offer such a tawdry view of life. It is giving a very disturbing view of the world. Why would the BBC be promoting or supporting this?
A spokesman for BBC3 said:
BBC3 informs, educates and
entertains a young audience and doesn't shy away from covering issues that affect them. We're proud of the role it plays in helping young people understand issues and make sense of the world.
Radio 4 is to broadcast a mid-morning adaptation of the seminal feminist novel, Fear of Flying , complete with strong language and sexual descriptions. The BBC said it will will not censor the swearwords or sexual content.
The BBC station
will air a five-part adaptation of Fear of Flying, the 1973 novel by the feminist writer Erica Jong , next week. The first episode, which will air on Monday at 10:45am, features a reference to finger-fucking , and there are also mentions of
the zipless fuck , and descriptions of how the central character longs to be filled up with a giant prick spouting semen .
While television has a 9pm watershed, no similar restrictions apply to radio. The BBC says that Radio 4 is an
adult network, that listeners will be given a series of warnings about graphic content, and that children will be back at school after half term.
Vivienne Pattison, the director of Mediawatch-UK, said:
could be on in the kitchen, or the car. A lot of children might hear it. I don't think it is acceptable. Lots of people don't realise there is no watershed on radio, and get quite shocked.
A BBC spokesman said:
Radio 4 is an adult network and the drama slot after Woman's Hour is long established with listeners expecting it to deal with a full range of adult issues which, on occasion, and when appropriate to the situation, include a realistic
reflection of strong language.
Fear of Flying is recognised as one of the most seminal, culturally significant pieces of feminist writing from the past 50 years and its broadcast will be contextualised by discussions on Woman's
Hour and strong language warnings.
Jekyll and Hyde was an ITV fantasy drama series inspired by the Robert Louis Stephenson novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
The first episode of the series was broadcast on 25
October 2015 at 18:30. Ofcom received 504 complaints from viewers about this episode. The majority of viewers who contacted Ofcom considered that the programme's scenes of violence and its dark and frightening tone were unsuitable for children, and a
number of complainants referred in particular to their concerns for younger children.
We noted the programme was preceded by the following pre-broadcast information:
It's time now on ITV for a brand new
adventure. It's Jekyll and Hyde which has some violence and scenes younger children may find a bit scary.
We noted the following scenes in the programme in particular:
1) Street attack: In the
programme's opening scene, set on a dark and gloomy night in London in 1885, Edward Hyde (i.e. the alter ego of Henry Jekyll, Robert Jekyll's grandfather) was shown arguing with and then violently attacking a man in a dimly lit street. When the man
started walking away from Mr Hyde, Mr Hyde knocked him to the cobbled street with two blows from his walking stick. Then, when he was lying on his front seemingly unconscious on the ground, Mr Hyde struck the man again across the back. These shots were
interspersed with an eyewitness seeing the attack and screaming. When police whistles were heard, Mr Hyde scurried away, and while escaping, threatened to hit a young girl with his stick. At the conclusion of the scene, when someone called out to him
when he has arrived at his front door, Mr Hyde turned around to roar at those pursuing him. This revealed, in close-up, his disfigured face with gnarled teeth and veins protruding from his skin.
Ofcom considered the
programme raised issues warranting investigation under Rule 1.3 of the Code, which states:
Children must...be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.
Ofcom Decision: Breach of rule 1.3
Firstly, we noted several scenes that predominantly featured acts of violence. We considered these various scenes, as described in the Introduction, had a notably dark, menacing and violent
tone. One of the factors cited in the Ofcom violence research as determining the audience's attitude towards depiction of violence was the cumulative/overall impact scenes of violence when taken together, and influenced for example by other elements such
as music or an 'atmosphere of unease' 9. The dark and menacing tone of the scenes of violence in this first episode would, in our view, have distressed some younger viewers in particular.
We considered that the dark, menacing tone was
established in the programme's opening scene (scene 1: Street attack ). This was set at night-time, accompanied by ominous music and depicted the original Dr Henry Jekyll (as Mr Edward Hyde) arguing with another man in a London street. As the man
was shown trying to walk away, Mr Hyde struck him twice on the back with a walking stick (with a third blow heard but not seen by viewers). With the man knocked to the ground and apparently unconscious, Mr Jekyll struck him again across the back. An
eyewitness screamed as she observed this brutal attack from a first floor window. Having threatened to violently attack a young girl he had knocked while escaping, at the conclusion of the scene, Mr Hyde suddenly turned around and roared, revealing to
the audience in close up for the first time his disfigured face.
We considered that the manner in which this attack was depicted and the sudden revelation of Mr Hyde's unnatural and frightening features, resulted in a scene that would potentially
distress younger viewers. We agreed with ITV's point that this scene did not depict explicit or graphic violence and contained no bloodshed. We also noted the Licensee's comment that the revelation that the murder had been committed by Mr Hyde
introduced an element of the fantastical to the scene. However, we considered that the depiction of a man being bludgeoned to the ground, the witness' reaction, and the overall tone of the scene, created as the Licensee said an element of horror .
We did not consider that any alarm or distress caused to younger viewers by the violence in this scene would be materially mitigated by the potentially frightening revelation that, as the Licensee described, the blows were struck not by a normal man
but by Hyde a disfigured superhuman monster . In our view the impact of this scene would have been substantially increased by the fact that it was the opening scene of the programme (and indeed the series) and therefore viewers may well have been
caught unawares by both its content and tone.
In Ofcom's view, the dichotomous and unpredictable personality of the programme's central character (as demonstrated in this scene at start of the episode shown around six minutes in to the episode)
had the potential to scare some younger children. ITV argued that this was counteracted by Dr Jekyll's role in defeating the forces of evil . We disagreed. In our view, any such role was not at all clearly established in this opening episode of
the series so as to effectively counteract the likely level of distress caused to some younger children, caused for example by Mr Hyde's behaviour in the scene where he seemed on the verge of letting a small girl be crushed to death by a truck. Viewers
would have been left with the overall impression of Robert Jekyll as a character was unable to control his alter ego, who unpredictably behaved in a cruel and violent way. We considered this aspect added to the potential for some of the content in this
programme to cause distress or concern to younger children.
In conclusion, Ofcom considered that the programme's content was not so strong that, with appropriate scheduling, it could not be broadcast pre-watershed. However, in the specific
circumstances of this case, we considered that the content would have exceeded the expectations of viewers, and in particular parents and carers, at this time and on this channel. Therefore, while acknowledging this was a finely balanced decision, Ofcom
concluded that children were not in this case protected from unsuitable material by appropriate scheduling, and there was a breach of Rule 1.3.
ITV have now cancelled the series and noted that they received 380 complaints about the
The One Show is a daily magazine programme broadcast every weekday in the early evening on BBC1.
A total of 11 complainants alerted Ofcom to a joke made by the comedian
Jimmy Carr, when he appeared on this programme. In summary, complainants objected to Jimmy Carr making a disgusting and offensive joke about a particular disabled group i.e. those who have dwarfism. Three of the complainants either
themselves, or had family members who, have dwarfism.
We noted the following exchange at approximately 19:26, between one of the programme's presenters, Matt Baker ( MB ), and Jimmy Carr ( JC ):
MB: Which joke were you most surprised by that you thought was funny that you didn't realise at the time?
JC: I don't know, I'm just trying to think of my favourite all-time joke which might work on
this show: 'I've got a Welsh friend of mine. I asked him how many partners he had in his life. And he started to count and he fell asleep' . [Laughter in the studio]
JC: [Looking into the camera and smiling] That's just
about alright, isn't it... [Looking at presenter] I tried to write the shortest joke possible, so I wrote a two word joke, which was: Dwarf shortage . Just so I could pack more jokes into the show. [Looking into the camera] If you're a dwarf
and you're offended by that: Grow up!
We considered that Jimmy Carr's joke ( Dwarf shortage ) and his follow-up statement ( If you're a dwarf and you're offended by that: Grow up! ) raised potential
issues under the following rule of the Code: Rule 2.3:
In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context... Such material may include,
but is not limited to, offensive language, violence, sex, sexual violence, humiliation, distress, violation of human dignity, discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds of age, disability, gender, race, religion, beliefs and sexual
orientation). Appropriate information should also be broadcast where it would assist in avoiding or minimising offence.
Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 2.3
In coming to a Decision in this
case, we therefore assessed first whether the material in this programme had the potential to cause offence. During this programme, Jimmy Carr referred to his attempt to write the shortest joke possible . The joke in question was Dwarf shortage
. He then made the statement: If you're a dwarf and you're offended by that: Grow up! We considered that, as both the joke and the follow up statement attempted to derive humour from dwarfism (a medical condition causing restricted growth
which often causes a person with the condition to be regarded as disabled), these statements clearly had the potential to cause offence.
In reaching our Decision, we noted the BBC statements that The One Show's Editor takes the
view that [Jimmy Carr's] joke was not appropriate for The One Show and The One Show production team takes a particular view on the tone they would like to adhere to, and feels this joke was inappropriate in light of that . We also noted that
the BBC would be amending the letter that guests are asked to sign prior to appearing on the One Show to make clear they should refrain from making jokes at the expense of minorities . Nonetheless, the BBC argued that Jimmy Carr's comments did not
amount to a breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code.
However, on the facts of this particular case, we considered that Jimmy Carr's jokes intended to derive humour from people with dwarfism were likely to cause offence, and for all the
reasons set out above were not justified by the context. Therefore, our view was that there was a breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code.
Offsite Comment: Should anything be 'beyond a joke ?'
Ofcom has a new name for its complaints bulletin reflecting the recent sacking of the internet video on demand censor, ATVOD. Ofcom has now taken over from ATVOD and will publish the results of any VoD complaints in the newly re-titled: Ofcom
Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin.
Impractical Jokers Comedy Central, 6 August 2015, 16:00
Impractical Jokers is a hidden camera practical joke reality series, following four comedians, as they
perform various pranks on members of the public.
During monitoring of an episode of Impractical Jokers shown before the watershed in the school holiday period we noted that at certain points when bleeped offensive language was
used in the programme, the following subtitles were shown to viewers:
He's gonna beat the f***ing s**t out of me. God, I'm f***ing shaking.
Ofcom considered the subtitles raised
issues warranting investigation under Rule 1.3 of the Code which states:
Children must be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.
stated that the broadcast in subtitles of partially obscured expletives was a regrettable oversight by our Compliance team . The Licensee added that following contact from Ofcom about this issue, the Licensee had withdrawn all 72 episodes of
Impractical Jokers from UK daytime schedules pending a review of their subtitling.
Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 1.3
We noted that a three minute sequence which was repeated on one occasion during the
programme contained two bleeped uses of the word fucking . Although the word was not audible in either case, we considered the accompanying subtitle ( f***ing ) made clear the language used.
Ofcom's research on
offensive language notes that the word fucking is considered to be among the most offensive by audiences. In our view, the repeated display of partially obscured examples of the most offensive language, particularly because they were broadcast at
the same time as bleeping on the programme's audio track, made clear the specific offensive language being used, and were unsuitable for children.
We noted both that the Licensee had apologised for the error and the steps it taken
to ensure that it the issue was not repeated. Nevertheless, for the reasons set out above, we concluded that the broadcast was in breach of Rule 1.3.
Cartoon Network is defending its decision to censor a scene of two woman dancing romantically from popular animated series Steven Universe .
It emerged this week that the network had made changes to an episode of the American animated series
for its broadcast in the UK.
The episode features a romantic dance between two female characters, Pearl and Rose Quartz, during a musical number, but the UK broadcast the close ups of the dancing partners with other characters.
Network claimed in a statement to PinkNews:
Cartoon Network (in Europe) often shows amended versions of programs from US originals. The US broadcast system requires that shows are marked with a rating --in this case PG
(parental guidance necessary). In the UK we have to ensure everything on air is suitable for kids of any age at any time. We do feel that the slightly edited version is more comfortable for local kids and their parents.
claim appears to be entirely inconsistent with the British ratings system, with the BBFC noting that heterosexual and gay content is considered using the same rules regardless of orientation.
The BBFC's U rating -- which Cartoon Network aims for
Characters may be seen kissing or cuddling and there may be references to sexual behaviour. However, there will be no overt focus on sexual behaviour, language or innuendo.
Fans have raised
concern about the network's gay discrimination in a petition saying:
UK is taking much-needed role models away from vulnerable kids.
Steven Universe is a beloved series acclaimed for its groundbreaking portrayal of queer characters. I've heard many young people say it changed their lives.
In the UK and Europe, CN UK have censored a romantic dance between two female characters, Pearl and Rose Quartz. Queer youngsters treasure and cling to this moment.
The same episode ('We Need to Talk') has
plenty of hetero dancing and kissing, so it looks like they're censoring this because it's two women.
Happily, there's a hopeful precedent. When CN France turned Steven Universe's lesbian love song Stronger Than You into a
song about friendship, we raised an outcry and they listened.
Please ask CN UK to stop censoring queer content in Steven Universe , and to restore Pearl and Rose's dance in future broadcasts in the UK and Europe.
Barry Humphries , the Australian comedian best known for playing Dame Edna Everage, has mocked the BBC for refusing to let him make jokes about Jeremy Corbyn without also ridiculing David Cameron.
He claims that during talks with the BBC about a guest
appearance as Dame Edna on Michael McIntyre's Christmas show, executives insisted on evenhanded mockery. He explained:
I mentioned some ideas to the BBC. I wanted to say something about Mr Corbyn and a faceless,
nameless person at the BBC said, 'Then you have also have to say something about Mr Cameron.' As if there wasn't any bias at the BBC at all!
In an interview in the Radio Times he said shows such as Til Death Us Do Part , which
ridiculed the racist views of main character Alf Garnett, would no longer be made by a nervous BBC:
It couldn't be done. There is a new puritanism that we are experiencing, a nervousness