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Friday, 27 July, 2001, 17:11 GMT 18:11 UK
TV satire sparks 1,500 complaints
still from Bras Eye
The original Brass Eye series was similarly controversial
Two broadcasting watchdogs are to investigate a controversial one-off special of Channel 4's satire show Brass Eye, broadcast on Thursday.

The programme, fronted by Chris Morris, prompted a flood of protests - 1,000 to Channel 4 and 560 to the Independent Television Commission so far.

The Independent Television Commission and the Broadcasting Standards Commission said they would view the programme, which duped several celebrities into taking part.

Blue Jam
Last year's Blue Jam was a remake of Morris's cult hit radio show
Channel 4 said it stood "absolutely" by the show, which was making an important point about the way the media sensationalised and exploited paedophilia.

But a spokeswoman for the ITC said many of the complainants said paedophilia was not a suitable subject for such satire.

In one scene a "paedophile" was held in a stock and asked if he fancied a young boy in the studio.

Channel 4 currently has a dedicated telephone line to deal with concerns about the show.

TV complaints to Channel 4
Queer As Folk: More than 1,000
Test cricket re-scheduling: 4,000
The Last Temptation of Christ: 700-1,000 per day before transmission

The ITC spokeswoman added: "Some complainants were concerned about the involvement of children in the programme."

The programme was made specially to herald a rebroadcast of the original current affairs satire Brass Eye four years ago.

In that series a list of public figures were persuaded to take part in entirely fictional campaigns against such dangers as a drug called cake and human shrinkage due to "heavy electricity".

In Thursday's programme singer Phil Collins is seen endorsing a fictional anti-paedophilia pressure-group Nonce Sense - as in "Now I'm talking Nonce Sense".

Collins threatened legal action and Channel 4 put back the broadcast of the show until now.

A Channel 4 spokesman said it stands by Brass Eye "robustly" and they will be repeating it again on Friday.

"In the current climate of hysteria that's whipped up about paedophilia, it's impossible to have a debate about the issues surrounding it," he said.


"You have to use shock tactics of this kind to force them into the public domain and get people to think about them."

Chris Morris
The Day Today also launched Steve Coogan's Alan Partridge character
He added that complaints were still rolling in and being dealt with.

TV presenters Phillipa Forrester and comedian Richard Blackwood were also duped into warning viewers about a fictitious internet game which would allow paedophiles to watch children playing at home.

ITN correspondent Nicholas Owen was seen describing how to destroy the dog character in the game,

The Channel 4 spokesman said this highlighted the sort of emotive language that is used around paedophilia.

'Whole picture'

"I think the programme shows the massive inconsistencies involved," said the spokesman.

"People are happy for their 11-year-old daughters to go to Eminem concerts and watch boy bands gyrating and parents are happy to put children in beauty pageants.

"You can't just look at paedophiles as if they are some alien life form, you have to look at the whole picture."

Morris, who began in BBC local radio has repeatedly been criticised for his work but also receives high critical praise.

He was part of the team that made the Radio 4 show On The Hour which went on to become TV's The Day To Day.

After the success of Brass Eye, Morris created Blue Jam, a late-night concoction of dreamy and disturbing words played over ambient music.

That too was remade for television as the series Jam last year.

The BBC's Torin Douglas
"It has caused a huge fuss"
See also:

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04 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
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24 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
BBC man 'tipped' for Channel 4
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