BBC rejects Springer furore

Governors anger Christian protesters

The BBC governors have rejected thousands of complaints over the airing of Jerry Springer - The Opera

Around 63,000 people complained when the show, co-written by comedian Stewart Lee and composer Richard Thomas, was aired on BBC 2 in January. Around 55,000 of the complaints were received before the show even aired.

But the governors' programme complaints committee voted by a 4-1 majority not to uphold them, saying the show’s artistic significance outweighed any offencewhich might have been caused.

The committee said that the offence caused to sizable numbers of viewers should not be taken lightly, but they said the show’s controversial content was well signposted.

However, they added that attempts were made to minimise offence through appropriate scheduling, clear warnings as to the nature of the show, and other programmes which put the broadcast in context.

 Christians were offended that during the musical , Jesus is seen wearing a nappy and declaring himself "a little bit gay".

The number of expletives in the show - around 300 - also caused offence.

But in reaching their decision, the BBC governors said: “The BBC is committed to freedom of expression and has a duty to innovate, to reflect new and challenging ideas and to make available to its audiences work of outstanding artistic significance.”

Stephen Green, who has been leading the protests through his pressure group Christian Voice said he was "very disappointed" with the decision.

 "It's a complete aberration of their responsibility. If the governors are supposed to be a watchdog and they can't see why Jerry Springer - the Opera shouldn't have been shown then they have no reason to exist," he said.

His group is planning to sue the BBC for blasphemy, while  the Christian Institute have applied for a judicial review saying the programme breached the BBC's charter and broke the Human Rights Act by discriminating against Christians.


Published: 30 Mar 2005

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