Tuesday 19 November 2019

Jekyll And Hyde creator Charlie Higson apologises to 'scared viewers'

Ofcom has launched an investigation into ITV's showing of Jekyll And Hyde.
Ofcom has launched an investigation into ITV's showing of Jekyll And Hyde.

Jekyll And Hyde creator Charlie Higson has apologised to scared viewers, following an Ofcom probe into the show.

The TV watchdog is opening an investigation after it received 459 complaints about an episode of the ITV drama that was deemed "too scary" by some viewers.

Higson, who wrote half of the series, told Stuart Maconie on BBC Radio 6: "I'm sorry that anyone got upset by it. It wasn't my intention to upset people by it. Obviously, it was my intention for it to be scary - it's a scary show.

"I was expecting more people to complain that it wasn't scary enough, rather than people saying, 'This is a scary show and I found it scary'. You think, well that's slightly the point. It'll be like writing The Fast Show and someone writing in saying it is quite funny."

The episode being investigated aired on October 25 at 6.30pm, hours before the 9pm cut-off point to show adult content.

It featured a half-human half-dog creature called a Harbinger, the physical transformation of saintly Jekyll into evil Hyde, and the brutal murder of Robert's foster parents in Ceylon. It also showed a violent bar-fight and a punch-up in an alleyway.

Higson defended the show, saying ITV had put out a warning about the violent scenes.

He explained: "I wanted to make a big, family entertainment that everybody can sit down together and watch, and most of the response I've had from Twitter is good. Some people said for younger kids, it wasn't suitable.

"We worked very closely with a compliance team at ITV in making the series, and they knew the guidelines so much better than me. Our model for it was something like Indiana Jones, where Alfred Molina gets impaled by spikes at the beginning."

He continued: " I think with a new show, people weren't quite sure what to expect. It was Jekyll and Hyde and people must have known that's a horror story and we worked very hard to make sure it followed the guidelines. And so I do regret some people found it a little bit extreme.

"It's a difficult thing talking about pre-watershed because you can't make every programme suitable for a five-year-old to watch. The rugby was out before we went on, and it was one of the most violent things I've ever seen on television."

Higson added: "In some ways, I think the publicity about it is quite good because people now know it's not suitable for younger children."

A spokesperson for the broadcast watchdog said: " Ofcom has carefully assessed a number of complaints about Jekyll And Hyde on ITV.

"We are opening an investigation into whether the programme complied with our rules on appropriate scheduling and violent content before the watershed."

Following the episode's airing, viewers expressed their views on Twitter, with one asking: "ITV why are you showing Jekyll and Hyde pre watershed? Too violent and scary when young children still up."

Reactions were mixed, as another viewer tweeted: "Jekyll and Hyde wasn't scary one bit. Kids watch way scarier films than that are rated PG."

PA Media

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