In the line of fire

'Outrage' over Mock The Week

After claiming the scalp of Russell Brand, the Daily Mail has turned its outrage to Mock The Week.

The newspaper, which has been at the vanguard of protest over the filthy calls Brand and Jonathan Ross made to Andrew Sachs, has now taken up arms against what it calls a ‘so-called joke’ Frankie Boyle cracked on a show aired last night.

Asked to think of something you wouldn’t hear in the Queen’s Christmas speech, he said: ‘I have had a few medical issues this year - I'm now so old that my pussy is haunted.’

Scenting another issue to outrage its Middle-England readers, the news paper said: ‘The decision to allow the “joke” to be aired on the show at 10pm, hours after Brand resigned, has led to renewed anger among viewers. Boyle's “gag” is just one example of the depths to which the BBC has fallen.’

However, the programme was a repeat – and attracted no negative coverage when it first aired almost two years ago. Last night, the show attracted just four complaints.

John Beyer, of Mediawatch UK – the organisation originally set up by the late Mary Whitehouse - said: ‘It is very offensive and should not have been broadcast. There is a great deal of respect for the Queen and people do feel very strongly about any kind of disrespectful comments about her.

‘When it comes to lapses of judgment like this you really have to look at the way things go on air.’

Tory MP David Davies added: ‘Ordinary, decent people who are struggling to pay their mortgages must wonder why overpaid buffoons are being rewarded for making foul comments about elderly people who have always behaved with the utmost decorum. It was a disgracefully foul comment to make about any lady.’

A spokesman for the BBC said: ‘Mock The Week is a well-established satirical comedy series whose audience has very clear expectations of its bold and sometimes provocative humour. This edition was first shown 21 months ago and is part of a run of repeated editions.’

Interviewed on Newsnight, BBC director-general MarkThompson, said that millions of viewers and listeners enjoyed the ‘edginess’ of comedy programmes, but admitted that the humour ‘sometimes gets close to the wind’.

The Mail On Sunday originally broke the story of the calls Brand and Ross made to 78-year-old Sachs, and its daily stablemate led the calls for their resignation. Just two people had complained to the BBC before the papers took up the cause.

Published: 31 Oct 2008

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