1.8m see Springer opera

Now BBC faces blasphemy case

Around 1.8 million viewers watched the controversial broadcast of Jerry Springer - The Opera on BBC Two on Saturday.

The show, written by stand-up Stewart Lee and composer Richard Thomas, had attracted a record 45,000 complaints for its language and perceived blasphemous contact before it went on air.

But just three hundred people called the BBC on Sunday, almost half of them in favour of the show,

The publicity clearly had a positive effect on the ratings, as an opera normally attracts around 1million viewers.

However, pressure group Christian Voice, which staged a vigil outside BBC offices last night, says it now plans to launch a blasphemy prosecution against the corporation.

The organization had previously circulated the home addresses of the BBC executives responsible for the broadcast, which had been seized on by extremists

Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, said: “I fear for the  United Kingdom  when we allow such a blasphemous mockery to be screened on national television. 

"The BBC have no respect for God, and they hold the views of ordinary people in contempt. If this is not blasphemy, nothing is.”

Blasphemy laws were last successfully used in 1977 when Mary Whitehouse brought a case against the Gay News for publishing a poem about a Roman centurion fantasising about gay sex with Jesus. The case means it is still illegal to publish the poem in Britain (but not on foreign internet sites – it’s here)

As for Jerry Springer – The Opera, a BBC spokesman said: "We are pleased that a wider audience has been able to see an important piece of contemporary culture.”

Last week, Lee defended his work. Click here for the story

Published: 9 Jan 2005

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