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Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 00:26 GMT 01:26 UK
Watchdog raps League of Gentlemen
League of Gentlemen
The League of Gentlemen is set in Royston Vasey
Surreal comedy The League of Gentlemen has fallen foul of television watchdogs for ridiculing children with learning disorders.

The Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) agreed with several viewers that the use of the word "mongs" in its Christmas edition was offensive.

But it dismissed other complaints that the same episode made light of child abuse.

The BSC was also called on to rule on whether this year's Comic Relief programme crossed the boundaries of taste and decency.

Billy Connolly
Billy Connolly's nude antics provoked some complaints

The commission ruled that although comedian Billy Connolly was seen cavorting naked around London landmark Eros, viewers had been warned of the scenes and that they were essentially a "harmless piece of fun in the spirit of the night".

In total 106 viewers complained about the fundraising night, with 67 referring to male nudity.

Other issues raised included swearing, innuendo and a film about a beheading.

Several viewers were also offended by an Ali G sketch, in which the spoof presenter interviewed Victoria and David Beckham.

The BSC threw out all complaints about the programme, which raised 54m on the night.

Five viewers complained about the League of Gentlemen, four for it featuring the term "mongs" to describe children with learning difficulties.

Term of abuse

The BBC defended the term by saying "that the bizarre world of Royston Vasey and its inhabitants, where a surreal and visceral tastelessness prevails, is now familiar to viewers".

But the commission decided it "exceeded acceptable boundaries for broadcast" as it has become a term of abuse "derived from disabilities", and upheld the complaint.

However, another complaint about sexual innuendo and trivialisation of child abuse and swearing was not upheld as the commission felt they were "unlikely to have exceeded the expectations of the majority of viewers".

A complaint about the use of images of culled animals during foot-and-mouth news coverage on the ITV News at Ten was not upheld as the BSC considered it to be in the public interest.

A Panorama programme on the same issue was exonerated on the same grounds.

See also:

28 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Buffy episode 'too explicit'
04 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Channel 4 comedy 'unacceptable'
12 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Broadcasters welcome Ofcom
28 Mar 01 | TV and Radio
Closer links for regulators
09 Dec 98 | Entertainment
Kilroy slates broadcasting watchdog
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