Sunday 25 June 2017

Watchdog considers Comic Relief probe after complaints over swearing and sound

By Sherna Noah

The Comic Relief show was criticised on social media for pre-watershed profanity and sound problems.

TV watchdog Ofcom is considering whether to launch an investigation into the BBC’s Red Nose Day telethon after the fundraiser sparked more than 150 complaints.

The Comic Relief show was criticised on social media for pre-watershed profanity and sound problems.

Several moments on the show – including when Vic Reeves flashed a fake penis at Susanna Reid before the 9pm watershed and when host Russell Brand responded to a technical glitch by saying “f***ing hell” live on air – sparked controversy.

Regulator Ofcom said that most of the complaints it received related to content rather than technical issues.

A spokesman said: “We have received 151 complaints about Comic Relief 2017 on the BBC. We will assess these complaints before deciding whether or not to investigate.”

Highlights of the Friday night telethon, on BBC1 and BBC2, included the Love Actually sequel, starring Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley and Colin Firth.

But viewers complained on Twitter about the use of swearwords before the watershed, including during a Mrs Brown’s Boys skit with former JLS star Aston Merrygold.

A skit involving Good Morning Britain star Reid, in which she was jokingly interviewed by Reeves and Bob Mortimer in character as The Stotts, drew negative comments after Reeves flashed a fake penis between his legs under a kilt.

The complaints come in the same year that Comic Relief launched a Swear Jar app – so people can donate money to Comic Relief every time that they use bad language.

Some of the segments were difficult to hear due to the “diabolical” audio. Host Sir Lenny Henry was even forced to ask the studio audience at London’s O2 Arena to be quiet.

Many viewers complained they could barely hear what was happening on their TV screens.

One viewer wrote: “The sound on Red Nose Day is dreadful” and another adding “Considering the O2 is home to hundreds of music events each year, the sound tonight is diabolical.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “There was a minor technical issue that meant the show was off-air for a minute, but quickly restored.”

An average of 6.2 million viewers tuned in to watch the programme and it scored a peak of 7.6 million.

The amount raised so far for this year’s Red Nose Day has reached more than £73 million.

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