Harry's tragic mistake

TV Burp repeated jokes after their subjects had died

ITV has apologised after an episode of Harry Hill’s TV Burp unwittingly joked about a mother and daughter who died in tragic circumstances.

The pair had been in a Sky reality show mocked by Hill on his hit show. But producers were horrified to learn that by the time the gags were repeated in a ‘best-of’ programme earlier this year, both had died.

Tracey Pancaldi and her daughter Jade had taken part in The Real Mrs Robinson, a programme in which a man dated two women, unaware they were mother and daughter, before choosing between them.

Hill made plenty of jokes about it at the time it aired – November 2004 – which the programme makers decided to use in a compliation in January this year.

They got permission from Sky to reuse the clips, but no one realised that in the interim aspiring model Jade had been found hanging from a tree in 2005; and that her mother fell 100ft to her death from a Southampton tower block last year.

As soon as they were alerted to the situation, ITV hastily edited the ‘best of’ show for its repeat a couple of days later – and have vowed that the footage of the Pancaldis would never again be used in the show. It will not be included in any DVD release, and ITV staff scoured sites such as YouTube to remove any clips.

The broadcaster says it never intended to offend its viewers, but admitted ‘Through circumstances beyond our reasonable control, upset and offence was caused by the broadcast of The Best of Harry Hill’s TV Burp 3.’

Tracey’s sister Chantel complained to broadcasting regulators Ofcom that the family had been left ‘deeply distressed’ by the footage, which infringed their privacy.

The watchdog accepted that broadcasting the footage would have been upsetting, but today published a ruling that ITV had not infringed the family’s privacy, nor acted unfairly, as the clips had already been aired with the full permission of the two women involved.

However, it did remind broadcasters that it might sometimes be appropriate to investigate deeper before repeating old footage.

Published: 23 Nov 2009

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