BBC braced for Springer opera storm

THE BBC was bracing itself for further criticism today as it prepared to screen the controversial Jerry Springer musical.

Critics have complained that the show, to be shown uncut on BBC2 tonight, features more than 8000 swearwords and portrays Jesus in a nappy admitting he is "a bit gay".

The decision to broadcast Jerry Springer - The Opera has sparked a record 7361 complaints to TV watchdogs and protesters have burned symbolic TV licences over the issue.

The previous record holder for complaints, Martin Scorsese’s film The Last Temptation of Christ, attracted just 1554 complaints when it was shown on TV in 1995.

The leader of the Christian People’s Alliance Party, Alan Craig, called for the suspension of BBC2 controller Roly Keating.

Yesterday BBC director-general Mark Thompson defended the decision to screen the show, saying that as a practising Christian he found nothing in it to be blasphemous.

He said viewers would be warned that the West End musical contained strong language.

Protesters gathered outside the BBC’s Television Centre in west London yesterday in an attempt to persuade the corporation to scrap the musical.

TV lobby group Mediawatch-UK has written to BBC chairman Michael Grade claiming the show breached corporation guidelines on respecting religious sensibilities.

But the National Secular Society has urged the BBC to stand firm against "religious bullies".

The show will form the centrepiece of BBC2’s Jerry Springer Night.

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