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The BBC's Torin Douglas
"It has caused a huge fuss"
 real 56k

Saturday, 28 July, 2001, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Channel 4 defends 'sick' satire
still from Bras Eye
The original Brass Eye series was similarly controversial
Channel 4 has defended its decision to repeat a controversial satire on paedophilia as the show is branded "sick" by one MP duped into appearing.

The Brass Eye programme drew 1,500 complaints after its first showing on Thursday, prompting an investigation by the Independent Television Commission.

Children's charities called for the repeat to be scrapped.

Channel 4 is guilty of dereliction of duty ... in putting two fingers up to organisations like the NSPPC

Gerald Howarth MP
But Channel 4 defended its decision to show the programme, insisting that charities were missing the main point of satirising sensationalist media coverage.

Celebrities such as ITN correspondent Nicholas Owen, presenter Richard Blackwood and rock star Phil Collins were duped into appearing on the show.

At one point, DJ Neil Fox was seen hammering a nail into a crab shell, telling viewers that paedophiles shared more in common genetically with the crustacean than they did with other humans.

Blackwood said paedophiles had the power to make computer keyboards emit toxic fumes which would make young users more "susceptible".

Widespread outrage

Gerald Howarth, Tory MP for Aldershot, another tricked into appearing, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the show was "sick".

Revealing that he had not seen the programme, Mr Howarth said Channel 4 was guilty of "dereliction of duty".

It satirised the way the media covers the issue which we believe is encouraging a dangerous atmosphere

Matthew Baker
Channel 4
He said: "I haven't seen the programme because I was doing something useful at the Royal International Air Tattoo.

"There is widespread outrage from a variety of people whose opinions I respect greater than the opinions of the people who run Channel 4.

"Paedophilia is a very, very serious issue. To make light of it is simply sick.

"Channel 4 has a duty to the public and Channel 4 is guilty of dereliction of duty not just in allowing this programme to go out but in putting two fingers up to organisations like the NSPCC.

Criticism rejected

"They are saying we don't care about you we are going to repeat this."

But Matthew Baker, of Channel 4, rejected the criticism, saying: "We are clearly not putting two fingers up to children's charities.

"We believe that fundamentally they are missing the point of the programme.

"It satirised the way the media covers the issue which we believe is encouraging a dangerous atmosphere."

An angry Mr Howarth dismissed this defence as "garbage".

Complaints deluge

The station said it had received almost 1,000 complaints by Friday evening before the repeat was shown.

The ITC has received more than 500 - a figure only beaten by the screening of the movie The Last Temptation Of Christ, which prompted an organised campaign by Christian groups, and a TV ad for Levi's featuring a "dead" hamster.

An ITC spokeswoman said: "They are saying that they don't think it was a suitable subject for humour. Some were concerned about the involvement of children in the programme."

In one scene from Thursday night's show, presenter Chris Morris brought a young boy into the studio and asked a "paedophile" locked in stocks if he wanted to have sex with him.

Morris's 35-minute special was made to complement a repeat showing of his original Brass Eye series which was equally controversial, again duping public figures to show how they could be manipulated.

Distressed viewers

The presenter also posed as a rapper called JLB8 who dated youngsters as young as seven and performed with a dummy of a child attached to his crotch.

The NSPCC described the show as "crude and crass" and "offensive" and along with NCH called for a repeat not to be shown

The NSPCC's National Child Protection Helpline has taken a number of complaints from distressed callers - including child abuse victims - who had seen Thursday night's programme.

NCH said: "Programmes like this may make it harder to engage public figures in supporting organisations raising awareness of child sexual abuse."

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