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Monday, 13 August, 2001, 18:09 GMT 19:09 UK
Connolly backs TV satire
Billy Connolly
Billy Connolly is promoting his new film in Edinburgh
Comic and actor Billy Connolly has defended Channel 4's controversial satire show Brass Eye, saying no issue should be off limits to comedians.

The Scot, who admitted he had not seen the episode which satirised media handling of paedophilia, believes there should be "no boundaries" in comedy.

Brass Eye prompted thousands of complaints
Brass Eye prompted thousands of complaints
He was speaking ahead of the première of his new film Gabriel and Me at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Connolly said: "I didn't see it, but it's a field that should be explored.

"I'm sure everyone in this room has been told a joke about that subject. I have many times and I've laughed, even though they are horrifying and shocking."

He added: "I think there's no boundary at all, whether it's that subject or another."

His comments come at a time when police officers are considering whether to investigate the show.

The Crown Prosecution Service was being consulted after police received a complaint from a member of the public, a spokeswoman from London's Metropolitan Police Service said.


We are liaising with the Crown Prosecution Service to determine what, if any, further action is necessary

New Scotland Yard spokeswoman
However she would not say what the nature of the complaint was.

Under review

Brass Eye, written and fronted by Chris Morris, caused a storm of public and media protest when it was broadcast on 26 July at 2235 BST and repeated the next night at 0010 BST.

It is currently under review by two broadcasting watchdogs after it prompted thousands of complaints from viewers, as well as from several celebrities claiming they were duped into taking part.

Singer Phil Collins
Singer Phil Collins says he was fooled into taking part

The police spokeswoman told BBC News Online: "The Metropolitan Police Service has received a complaint from a member of the public in connection with the matter.

"We are liaising with the Crown Prosecution Service to determine what, if any, further action is necessary."

The show based its satire around what some consider to be the hysterical over-reaction of the media to paedophiles.

It included mock TV news reports into suspected paedophiles, their behaviour, and how the public should take measures to keep their children safe.

Chris Morris
Morris fronted the pioneering news spoof The Day Today
But Channel 4 told BBC News Online it would continue to support the show, which was making an important point about the way the media sensationalised and exploited paedophilia.

"The channel stands by its decision to commission and broadcast this programme, which, through savage satire, sought to make a serious point," said a Channel 4 statement.

"Chris Morris was not making light of paedophilia; his target was the dangerous sensationalism and exploitation that can characterise media coverage of the issue.

Celebrities

"As commentators have already noted, some of the more outspoken reaction to the programme only underlines the validity of the point it was making."

Several celebrities and MPs were featured in the programme, including singer Phil Collins, who was fooled into backing its fictional "Nonce Sense" campaign.

The Broadcasting Standards Commission and the Independent Television Commission received more than 2,500 complaints about the programme.

Channel 4 also said it had received 3,000 complaints.

The majority of protests focused on Brass Eye's apparent mocking of a serious and sensitive subject.

Some complainants were also concerned about the involvement of children in the programme.

Many also criticised the decision to repeat the programme.

Both Channel 4 and the ITC also said recently they had received hundreds of letters of support for the show.

See also:

04 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Channel 4 comedy 'unacceptable'
27 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
TV satire sparks 1,500 complaints
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