1 November 2008

How the BBC handled one complaint about Ross

On 5th September, I made the mistake of phoning the BBC complaints line after the British Olympic gold medallists appeared on Jonathan Ross's Friday night show.

It wasn't the sniggering double entendres about 'muscles', pitiful though they were (see below for a sample), that made me pick up the phone, but Ross's mockery of one of his guests for wearing glasses and reaction to his loss of a contact lens during the final with "boo f******* hoo" (also on the clip below)

I was told by the complaints department that such language was quite normal on his programmes and that regular viewers knew perfectly well what to expect. I was then informed that it was alright because it was after the 9.00 p.m. ‘watershed’, when swearing is O.K.

When I made the rather obvious point that a lot of children would have been allowed to stay up late to see their heroes on their return from the Olympics, the reply was that it was the fault of parents, not the BBC, if there happened to be any young children watching.

What was made very clear was not just that Ross had the BBC'S full approval to use offensive language, but that they were prepared to defend his right to do so against anyone stupid enough to complain about it.

But that, of course, was two months before the recent uproar about his witty contribution to the Russell Brand show.


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