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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 January, 2005, 10:43 GMT
BBC producer quits over Springer
Antony Pitts
Mr Pitts worked on BBC Radio 3's Between the Ears programme
A BBC Radio 3 producer has resigned in protest at the corporation's broadcast of Jerry Springer - The Opera, saying it offended his Christian beliefs.

Antony Pitts quit after watching the show, saying: "The blasphemy was far, far worse than even the most detailed news reports had led me to believe."

The corporation received 47,000 complaints before it broadcast the hit musical on BBC Two on Saturday.

The BBC said it considered every show's potential for offence before broadcast.

'Insufficient attention'

Hundreds of protesters rallied outside BBC buildings before and during the broadcast, which featured characters playing Jesus, Mary and God as guests on Springer's TV show.

Mr Pitts joined the BBC in 1992, working on radio shows such as Between the Ears and Late Junction.

In his resignation letter, he listed what he had found blasphemous in the broadcast.

These examples included "the ridiculing of the figure of Jesus on the cross, dressed to imply sexual perversion" and "the repeated mockery of the wounds (stigmata) of Jesus, linked to acts of crudeness".

Anyone likely to pursue a case for blasphemy would not have remained in the theatre long enough to witness it
Antony Pitts
He felt that "we the BBC did not give sufficient attention to the overwhelming level of listener protest in advance".

Mr Pitts wrote: "One of the arguments used before the broadcast was that the stage show had not been attacked for blasphemy.

"My answer, after watching the show, is that anyone likely to pursue a case for blasphemy would not have remained in the theatre long enough to witness it."

BBC director general Mark Thompson met Mr Pitts on Monday to discuss the issue, but was unable to persuade him to stay at the BBC.

David Soul in Jerry Springer - The Opera
The opera featured Jesus and God as guests on Springer's TV show
A BBC spokeswoman said: "The BBC has to balance the potential offence such a programme might cause against the quality and artistic content of the programme and the needs of the whole audience.

"But we acknowledge the strength of feeling that has been expressed to us through phone calls and emails and in meetings with representatives of the church.

"We regret that Antony has felt it necessary to resign on a point of principle over this issue and we wish him well."

On Tuesday BBC director of television Jana Bennett denied that the show was blasphemous, describing it as "a really good piece of opera that had something to say".


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
It has been a big hit on the London stage



FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
TelegraphJesus and Jerry - 5 hrs ago
Big News Network BBC producer quits over Springer musical - 17 hrs ago
MENAFN BBC producer quits over Springer musical - 19 hrs ago
Guardian UnlimitedAntony Pitts' resignation letter - 29 hrs ago
Asian Age Jerry Springer Opera faces Christian wrath - 69 hrs ago
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SEE ALSO:
BBC defends 'good' Springer opera
11 Jan 05 |  Entertainment
Group to act over Springer opera
10 Jan 05 |  Entertainment
Springer opera draws 1.7m viewers
09 Jan 05 |  Entertainment
Springer success story continues
27 Apr 04 |  Entertainment
Q & A: Blasphemy law
18 Oct 04 |  UK


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