Ofcom clears BBC over Jerry Springer opera
THE BBC’s decision to screen Jerry Springer: The Opera has been cleared by the broadcasting watchdog, Ofcom.
Ofcom ruled that the show, which attracted a record 16,801 complaints, was not in breach of guidelines. The decision to screen the hit West End musical on BBC2 in January sparked outrage and even accusations of blasphemy.
Ofcom said it "appreciated that the representation of religious figures was offensive to some people".
But it said: "The show’s effect was to satirise modern fame and the culture of celebrity. The images that caused the most offence were part of a ‘dream’ sequence serving as a metaphor for the fictional Jerry Springer and his chat-show.
"In Ofcom’s view, these were not meant to be faithful or accurate depictions of religious figures, but a product of the lead character’s imagination. Even as he lay dying, the fictional Jerry Springer still saw his life through the lens of his confessional show."
Ofcom received 7,491 complaints before transmission and 8,860 afterwards, including 4,264 e-mails from an organisation called Premier Media Group. However, it also received 210 messages of support for the programme.
Ofcom pointed to the fact that the musical was preceded by a programme which aimed to put the show into context.
As well as complaining about the language, critics argued that the programme singled out the Christian faith. They said the characterisation of religious figures was offensive, with Eve putting her hands up Jesus’s loincloth and a suggestion that Jesus was gay.
The BBC said the outstanding artistic significance of the programme outweighed the offence caused to some.
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