Jerry Springer, the BBC, Mediawatch UK, and those f**king c**ts at The Sun

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 6, 2005

Category: Christ..., Page 3 - News in Briefs, Rupert 'The Evil One' Murdoch

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Thursday, January 6th, 2005
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under Christ…, Page 3 – News in Briefs, Rupert ‘The Evil One’ Murdoch.

Today, Page 3 girl Ruth (22, from Kent) ‘can’t believe’ the Beeb is showing Jerry Springer The Opera. She says: “I’m not surprised they’ve had complaints about the swearing. Why can’t they plug the Saturday night telly gap with good sitcoms or quiz shows instead?”

RWCs have known for a long time that the best defence it to be downright offensive, so it’s no surprise that The Scum are running with this following news that makes it absolutely clear why Murdoch has an interest in attacking the BBC. But this story didn’t originate at The Sun

The Sun – Swear box: THE BBC has been flooded with a record number of protests after deciding to screen a show with more than 8,000 swear words. Jerry Springer The Opera includes 3,168 “F” words and 297 “C” words. The Beeb has had 15,000 complaints about the show, to be screened by BBC2 on Saturday at 10pm. And TV watchdog Ofcom has had a record 4,500 protests – also the most it has ever received.The Sun – Obscene TV: BBC2 is planning to air around 8,000 obscenities on Saturday night. It will broadcast an unedited “live” recording from the theatre where Jerry Springer The Opera is playing. If people want to buy theatre tickets for this cult adult show, fine. That’s their choice and they know exactly what they are getting. But it is not what millions of us pay the BBC licence fee for. The Sun is astonished the BBC is thinking of screening such a show. Will BBC bosses be encouraging THEIR families to watch?A bit of a reach in that last sentence. This show is going out at 10pm, and is clearly aimed at adults. And, yes, this is exactly what I pay my licence fee for. Jerry Springer The Opera was previously only available to people living in or near London with the time and money for the theatre. Now it’s accessible.But of course this show (which comes to bury Jerry, not to praise him) cannot be described as an important work of art because it contains swear words. The girl with her tits out said so.One final word or two about The Scum before we move on…This acerbic opera is an artistic, hilarious yet subtle assault on trash TV. I’m struggling here to try and think of a tabloid newspaper that exploits dysfunctional people in a similar manner to trash TV, but I’m not having much luck. Perhaps you’d care to settle instead for some trashy exploitation that was plugged mercilessly by a certain tabloid newspaper…I also find it curious that The Sun would be concerned about the effect of the repeated use of swear words when it defends the repeated spewing of right wing propaganda by topless women as a bit of ‘harmless fun’…Right, now let’s get down to these complaints. All 23,000 of them.It would appear that John Beyer of authoritatively-named Mediawatch UK has been paying attention. When Janet Jackson’s breast flopped out on national television in the US, the American public were so outraged that not one of them sent an email complaint that very evening, but plenty kicked up a stink after they were told to be outraged.Here’s something else that no doubt caught his attention; the FCC’s response to ‘many’ complaints about indecency on Murdcoh’s Fox network…BuzzMachine – The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few: I just received the FCC’s reply with a copy of all the complaints — and a letter explaining that, well, there weren’t 159 after all. William H. Davenport, chief of the FCC’s Investigations and Hearings Divison, admits in his letter that because the complaints were sent to multiple individuals at the FCC, it turns out there actually were only 90 complaints. It gets better: The FCC confesses that they come from only 23 individuals. It is shocking enough that what tens of millions of us are permitted to see by our government can be determined by 159 … or 90 … or 23. But it gets even better: I examined the complaints and found that all but two of them were virtually identical. In other words, one person took the time to write a letter and 20 other people then photocopied or merely emailed it to the FCC many times. They all came from an automated complaint factory like the one I write about here. Only two letters were not the form letter. So in the end, that means that a grand total of three citizens bothered to take the time to sit down and actually write a letter of complaint to the FCC. Millions of people watched the show. Three wrote letters of complaint.John Beyer has gone one better by generating a record 4,500 complaints to Ofcom… without anybody actually seeing the show!The campaigner got his first nibble from the Daily Mail in early December (mirror here), and has been pedalling away on the back of this since.Here are two Usenet posts to uk.religion.christian from two ‘different’ posters with curiously similar concerns…23 Dec 2004 from RevBJ: I have now received from about 4 or 5 different sources pleas to write to BBC and Ofcom to complain at the planned showing of Jerry Springer the Opera on BBC 2. If we are for freedom of expression should we not let it be shown? If our faith is important and under attack should we complain? Like all good exam questions that can be answered “Yes” or “No” I’ll append the covering word – “Discuss” The messages have been along the lines of: The Sikhs have made a stand – but will Christians?01 Jan 2004 from David Lane: Some of you might want to respond to this (below). I am assured that it is genuine, but that you may check for yourselves if you like by visiting the show’s website (not recommended due to the obscenities on it), which confirms that two shows were filmed during December for screening by the BBC. pleas to write to BBC and Ofcom to complain at the planned showing of Jerry Springer the Opera on BBC 2. If we are for freedom of expression should we not let it be shown? If our faith is important and under attack should we complain? Like all good exam questions that can be answered “Yes” or “No” I’ll append the covering word – “Discuss” The messages have been along the lines of: The Sikhs have made a stand – but will Christians?Please note that the similarities begin before the poster even gets to the part where they start quoting the standard plea… you can see further instances of that plea here and here. The core of the plea even appears on the front page of this U.S. site).Oh, and here’s a man who is so disappointed by the BBC’s ‘copy and paste’ reply to his complaint that he finishes his post with: The following is a copy of the FAX that we are sending using the website. Simply enter your postcode in the box press GO and copy and paste this fax to your MP!Now let’s get down to that plea, which seemingly praises the actions of hardline Sikhs in silencing artistic expression through outright bullying and suggests Christians follow suit…The Sikhs have made a stand – but will Christians?Below is a transcript of a television billing that is scheduled to be shownon BBC2 on 8th January 2005 at 9pm (unless we get enough people tocomplain).”BBC2 plans to broadcast Jerry Springer’s “The Opera”, immediately afterChristmas. This musical, notorious for containing over 8000 expletives,depicts the characters of Jesus, Mary and God as self-centered sexualdeviants who give and receive extreme verbal abuse and a horrific series ofblasphemies, all in the name of comedy. The show’s artistic director admitsthat it is a deliberate attack on “good taste”, and the BBC concedes thatthe intended broadcast “pushes back the boundaries of taste and decency”.Nevertheless, the show is scheduled to be transmitted without any cuts.”If you disagree with the BBC’s plan to broadcast this material, pleaseregister your feelings with the BBC tel 08700 100222) orOfCom ( tel 0845 456 3000). Could you also forward thismessage to anyone else you feel would want to be aware of this. This doesmake a difference – 500 calls are considered as a very significantcomplaint, so I am sure we can do this!!!!!!!!! You need to complain to bothOfCom and the BBC.The following URL is a direct link to the Ofcom website – and to register acomplaint online. Please make use of this: forward this message to as many people as possible, because time isof the essence as the 8th Jan gets nearer. Let us also pray for the materialthat is now being presented as entertainment on the BBC, and let us make adifference by being salt and light. The BBC plans to show the mostexpletive-strewn programme in history despite the following review fromtheir own BBC reporter:(there then follows a full repeat of this review)Surely John Beyer and the good people of Mediawatch UK (credited here by The Independent as “the successor to Mary Whitehouse’s National Viewers and Listeners Association”) have been in the game long enough to know that Ofcom can’t act until a show actually been broadcast.And what is it with that “transcript of a television billing” that actually seems to suggest that the BBC is expressing great joy and pride in the number of expletives?I’m especially suspicious about the ‘admission’ from the BBC (credited to Roly Keating, BBC2’s controller) that the show deliberately “pushes back the boundaries of taste and decency”… especially because this is a favourite catchphrase of John Beyer. Either that, or the words just magically follow him wherever he goes…Dec 2001: Mr Beyer said most people did not want programme-makers to continually test the boundaries of taste and decency.Aug 2003: Channel 4 has been blasted for pushing the boundaries of taste and decency with an advert for Sex And The City. TV campaign group Mediawatch-UK said it was appalled and wants C4 censured.Apr 2004: John Beyer, the director of Mediawatch-UK, said: “Michael Grade is the wrong man to fill this most important role… “During his time at Channel 4 he pushed back the boundaries of taste and decency.”This ‘quote’ appears to have originated in the December Daily Mail article and echoed from there to and This is London (who at least had the decency to add the word ‘allegedly’). Did Roly Keating actually say this? Somehow I doubt it.Oh, and the show’s artistic director who ‘admits’ that it is a deliberate attack on good taste…? – Lee rejects Springer critics: Stewart Lee has hit back at critics complaining about the bad language in the BBC broadcast of Jerry Springer The Opera before it has even aired…. Lee said: ‘No one involved in the creative team of the stage production has ever said ‘that it is a deliberate attack on good taste’. We think the show is in very good taste and has a positive agenda. If the BBC have said it “pushes back the boundaries of taste and decency” then they did so without our knowledge and have obviously misunderstood the show, and backed themselves into a very difficult, ill-considered position when it comes to defending their decision to broadcast it.If indeed they said it at all. Lee should retract his barbs and recognise that the creative team behind the opera and the BBC may just be victims of the same offence. But I’m willing to forgive him this time… especially when he provide useful analysis like this: ‘Apparently (the show) includes 3,168 F-words. Who has had the time to count this? Have you any idea how long it would take to sing 3,168 F-words? There obviously aren’t 3,168 F-words in it, there couldn’t be that many in two hours even if that was the only word which was sung… ‘I also read that there are 297 uses of the word “cunt”. There are in fact only seven – three as a noun, and four as an adjective.He also goes on to say: ‘Neither Mary, God, not Jesus are represented as “self-centred sexual deviants” – unless being ‘a bit gay’, which Jesus says he is, counts a sexual deviance, which we hardly feel it does. Both God and Mary are represented with the utmost respect, as is their holy due.’So, the plea which is doing the rounds contains:- a ‘quote’ from the BBC which is suspect at best and appears to deliberately goad conservatives- an ‘admission’ from the creators of the show that was never made… and appears to deliberately goad conservatives- a false suggestion that complaints to Ofcom would see the show cancelled before transmission- a false claim about the number of expletives- a false claim about blasphemous content- a less-than-subtle suggestion that Christians take matters into their own hands in much the same way that these criminals did.In other words, John Beyer is knowingly deceiving and exploiting the Christian community. He even has the cheek to – in his latest press release – suggest that the letters are driving him (rather than admit that it’s him driving the letters).In this same press release he suggests that: “There must be other West End productions that would be more enjoyable and appreciated by a far greater number of licence-fee payers? Why not, for example, screen a seasonal pantomime, with well-known and liked television and radio personalities, currently showing at provincial theatres across the country?”Because, John, these are already available at provincial theatres across the country!Scotsman – BBC to air Springer musical in face of anger at language: A BBC spokeswoman said: “It is a serious work. People who can’t get to London to see it at the theatre can now see it in their own home. It will transmit well after the 9 o’clock watershed and carry appropriate warnings. We have had 15,000 e-mails, calls and letters to date. There is evidence that most of these are from an organised lobby encouraged to contact us. Of course we take comments and complaints seriously but many would appear to be misinformed on the content of the show.”Exactly. And that’s the kind of report you would expect to see in a newspaper, in that it includes facts presented in context.Sadly, The Sun isn’t a newspaper; it’s a tabloid. And the owner of this tabloid requires his writers and editors to attack and malign the BBC whenever possible. That’s why Rupert Murdoch is in bed with John Beyer today.But I can’t help but wonder what John Beyer makes of a topless woman parroting his concerns about the boundaries of taste and decency. Perhaps I shall email him today and ask. After getting in touch with Ofcom to have a closer look at the complaints they received.UPDATE – As noted by Justin in the comments, today’s Daily Mail points out that: The expletive-laden songs… are sung by the lead cast members and the 27-strong chorus. The total number of obscenities is calculated by multiplying the number of swear-words by the number of people singing them.Bwahahahahahahahahahaha! Hey, if I watch the show in stereo, does that mean that I’m exposed to 594 c-words instead of 297? What happens with surround-sound? Or if I sing along myself? What if the little voices in my head urging me to Kill! Kill! Kill! join in too?Incidentally, a little bird tells me that the BBC had been receiving mostly email complaints about this (monkey see, monkey click), and that nearly every email contained the phrase “self-centered sexual deviants”… meaning that the majority of complaints can be attributed directly to Mediawatch’s campaign.At least, that was the case until today. Now The Sun is bleating about it (and the Daily Mail is back on the case), the number of emails has jumped and they’ve finally started receiving a few phone calls. In other words, nobody really got off their arse until the bird with the tits told them to.These so-called ‘moral guardians’ have created a facade of public outrage. They have lied and cheated to do so. And it will be a cold day in hell before I’ll stand by and just watch it unfold.Tomorrow, I plan to wear my patented Angry Pants.You have been warned.


  1. matt armstrong says

    Surely this can’t be the same Jerry Springer the Opera that I’ve seen advertised on posters and billboards around London over the last few months offering a special deal of cheap 10 quid seats in association with, ahem, Sky television…

  2. Nick Barlow says

    I think we can definitely take it as read that the Sun has no sense of irony. Though given that Sky were sponsoring the tickets offer, might it be that they were outbid for the TV rights to the show and are getting back this way?

  3. Manic says

    Verily, you speak the truth:”Sky are sponsoring Jerry Springer ? The Opera to bring you a great new ticket offer.” yes, but The Sun’s position is that this is OK in theatres, but to bring it to TV (at 10pm, with many warnings for unwary parents) means *gasp* a CHILD might see it.(Erm, in much the same way that a child might see a fine pair of knockers without having to reach for the top shelf in their local newsagent, perhaps?)

  4. Wolf Solent says

    This is made all the more bizarre by MediaWatch’s mind-wrenching incompetence. If you want to read their website, you’d better be ready to change a lot of “\” slashes to “/” in the URLs, while their four-page newsletter occasionally manages to have the pages in the wrong order.(And didn’t I read in one of the Sunday papers at the weekend that Mary Whitehouse’s own son is a convicted drug dealer? Which does rather leave you wondering where she got off on crapping on endlessly about traditional family values…

  5. Guy Gooberman says

    DO we think that people have actually complained in advance? I thought only politicians complained about things they’ve not seen or read?

  6. Manic says

    Heh. I meant to mention Mediawatch’s interesting approach to website navigation. It’s all over the place.Still, at least John Beyer mastered the upl0ad codez to get his cuddly face on the front page.

  7. Manic says

    Guy: I’ve put in a request to Ofcom to see all of the letters, faxes and emails they received on this subject. I’ll let you know what they come back with.Me, I can’t help but think of a classic piece of stock footage that showed Mary Whitehouse and a few staffers madly typing multiple letters of complaint (no doubt to multiple recipients).

  8. melissa_cw says

    We’ve had many complaints too in Boris Johnson’s office.Good posting Manic, will study it.melissa – Boris Johnson’s Office

  9. Wolf Solent says

    Oh and – Whitehouse made a point of never, ever having seen most of the stuff she complained about. This was her startling defence to the old canard about how come all this hideous pornography apparently didn’t deprave and corrupt her.

  10. Manic says

    Ah, yes… one does not have to see a pigsty to know that it stinks.

  11. Chicken Yoghurt says

    This from the Daily Mail:”The total number of obscenities is calculated by multiplying the number of swear-words by the number of people singing them.”Now that’s double counting to make even Gordon Brown blush with envy.

  12. Scaryduck says

    Ah, Mary Whitehouse. At the height of the “Don’t die of ignorance” anti-AIDS campaign, she commented “I don’t want condoms forced down my throat morning, noon and night.”What a horrifying mental image.

  13. Wolf Solent says

    A quick google for the phrase “pushes back the boundaries of taste and decency” is deeply illuminating. I wonder – could this sort of thing be covered by anti-harrassment laws?

  14. Angel says

    When I read the things that you write, Tim, I am reminded of Cassandra. You’re absolutely right, but nobody’s listening. Well, except for us. But we’re the choir.Can anyone start their own MediaWatch-type action group, except for non-idiots? Could we even find 15,000 people who would be willing to complain when the BBC *fails* to air things like JSTO?

  15. parm says

    Guy: The fact that I’ve been sent an email telling me to email the BBC about it (all my friends should, in theory, know better than that – I’ve got a very low tolerance for any kind of ‘Christian’ chain mail, despite being one of the Godbothering crowd myself) suggests that there’s a fairly concerted effort amongst UK Evangelicals to get it banned. I reckon there’ll be several thousand emails (all saying nearly exactly the same thing in a polite-but-firm sort of way), easy.

  16. 2lmc spool says
  17. Groovy Links says

    Bloggerheads – Jerry Springer, the BBC, Mediawatch UK, and those f**king c**ts at The Sun

    The mass-mailing of complaints about “decency” has now reached the British media, as 15,000 complaints are received by the BBC *before* “Jerry Springer – The Opera” is broadcast. And Rupert Murdoch’s stoking the fire….

  18. NeoSoc says

    Following on from the Mary Whitehouse comments, John Beyer said yesterday on the radio show “PM” that he’d never seen the play (something to do with not wanting to be seen as a hypocrite).

  19. bigdaddymerk says

    you’ll find details of complaints will be released in their monthly bullitens which can be found here’s always good for a laugh, have a read of the complaint against 106.8 The Noise Breakfast Show (Hull) in issue 25. – Listeners were asked to guess a noise finally identified as the sound of a “woman spitting after sucking a man’s willy”.Genius.

  20. snooo says

    Excellent deconstruction of the whole thing there.I’d usually take this kind of thing with a pinch of salt, but with the Popetown decision a few months ago there could be a real possibility of the BBC confusing the call for ‘sensitivity’ on religion with cultural conservativism – especially with the tip-toeing mood that the bosses are in.It would be a shame to have this cancelled, as I am particularly looking forward to seeing it.

  21. I Love Everything says

    BBC screens Jerry Springer: The Opera – Christians up in arms and burning their TV licenses

    This link and this link are pretty insightful.

  22. invicta says

    Useful blog – thanks for the “boundaries of taste and decency”Just a few notes from someone who is anti Murdoch antics, denigration of BBC, negative effect of Hutton report etc..You can be an independent thinker, go to the theatre, enjoy satire etc and still want to complain that the BBC has over stepped the mark on this occasion. (People in jobs wanting to make their mark is just as much a problem as many listed on this blog).The danger perceived by some of us with a clear Christian conviction is that unchecked the boundaries really will be pushed back and it will become open season on the centralities rather than the hypocrises surrounding Christianity.The hypocrises really should be satired and lampooned. In a liberal democracy we need to know the difference. It is really the same kind of distinction we get between judging the “act” (behaviour) but not “actor” (the person) – say in the classroom.-Chris

  23. Manic says

    Chris, you may very well be right on all points… hang on a mo… be right with you…I’d advise anyone interested in this program who plans on watching it tonight to check out Chris’ link: the record, I haven’t seen the show yet. But I will. Tonight. And I’d like to take this moment (..) to thank the BBC for the opportunity.Right. Chris… where were we?… you may very well be right on all points, but that doesn’t justify the actions of Conlan and Beyer.If the show was a concern, they should have focused on those concerns. Not invent them, blow them up out of all proporation, misquote the artistic director of the show and (possibly) the controllor of BBC2 to give the impression that the broadcast of this show was designed to offend in an alarmingly dismissive/aggressive wave.And that circular? Bloody hell!”The Sikhs have made a stand – but will Christians?”What do you think that was supposed to *suggest* people do about it?I could be totally offended by this evening’s show and *still* want to take very serious legal action against Conlan and Beyer.What they did to bring this protest about was wrong on many counts.Myself, I see this as the result of a Vast. Moral. Emptiness.

  24. frankie roberto blog says

    Jerry Springer – The Opera on BBC Two

    Well, I and my flatmates sat around to watch the BBC screening of Jerry Springer – The Opera this evening, and we all thought it was utterly hilarious and completely brilliant. The show puts the language of Jerry Springer, including…

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