Jo Brand cleared over Thatcher gag

QI joke 'not offensive'

Jo Brand’s joke that ‘Lady Thatcher’ sounded like a device for removing pubic hair has been cleared by BBC trustees.

One viewer complained about the gag when it aired on BBC One’s QI earlier this year, causing an investigation by the corporation’s governing body.

They also rejected complaints that jokes Brand made about incontinence in the same edition of the panel games were ageist and sexist.

The complaint had extra significance as the jokes were broadcast just two days after Baroness Thatcher's daughter Carol was sacked from The One Show for using the word 'golliwog' off-air – an incident witnessed by Brand.

The gag was taken up by the newspapers, with the Daily Express claiming that ‘the crude comments… attracted hundreds of complaints’ and former Tory party chairman Lord Tebbit claiming the gags showed the BBC had an anti-Conservative bias.

On the show, Brand said: ‘It was great actually when she became Lady Thatcher, because then she sounded like a device for removing pubic hair. You couldn't take her seriously after that.

Later in the programme she asked: ‘Is there a facility for men to wet themselves when they cough? Does that ever happen to blokes? Do men wet themselves when they cough, when they get old? Shit themselves?’

Channel controller Jay Hunt told the trustees Brand's comments were not poking fun at the former Prime Minister, but were simply a play of words on her name. The producer added that it was an accident of scheduling that the programme went out so soon after the golliwog row.

A complaint to the Trust was originally rejected earlier this year and now an appeal has also been turned down. The committee agreed the gags were ‘editorially justified’, did not amount to prejudice and did not breach programme guidelines.

Here is the Thatcher gag:

Published: 1 Dec 2009

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