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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 January, 2005, 11:11 GMT
Springer musical to go on UK tour
David Soul
David Soul plays the character of Jerry Springer
Hit musical Jerry Springer - The Opera, which has caused offence to many Christians, is to embark on a UK tour.

The show will end its West End run on 19 February and head to regional theatres around the country.

Its broadcast on BBC Two on Saturday prompted 47,000 complaints to the corporation ahead of broadcast from people who saw it as blasphemous.

And a motion has been tabled in the House of Commons condemning the BBC for the "mocking portrayal of Jesus".

Democrat Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson tabled the motion, which accused the show of ridiculing "some of the central tenets of the Christian faith".

He also attacked "the juvenile and offensive use of repeated profanity in an attempt at humour".

Blasphemy law

Scenes in which characters playing Jesus, Mary and Joseph were guests on the Jerry Springer show have caused offence to some. There was a concerted campaign to get the BBC broadcast halted.

BBC chairman Michael Grade reportedly said he sought personal assurances from director general Mark Thompson that the show did not breach blasphemy laws.

"I sought and was given reassurances from Mark Thompson that he had satisfied himself that the programme was compliant in every respect," he told the Broadcasting Press Guild, according to The Times.

But the Christian Voice Group has threatened to take out a private prosecution against the BBC for blasphemy.

Antony Pitts
Mr Pitts worked on BBC Radio 3's Between the Ears programme
And a BBC Radio Three producer has resigned from the corporation in protest, saying the broadcast offended his Christian beliefs.

Antony Pitts said he rejected the notion that because the show was a satire, it allowed the Christian faith to be ridiculed and he said believed blasphemy laws had been broken.

He told BBC Radio Four's Today programme: "The law doesn't prohibit any challenging of views or ideas or ideology, it's the way in which these attacks are conducted. It talks about the language - decent and temperate language.

"I had the pleasure of watching the entire broadcast on Saturday night and the context and manner make this totally unacceptable."

Jerry Springer - The Opera opened at the Battersea Arts Centre in London in 2002, where it was developed by creators Stewart Lee and Richard Thomas, before moving to the National Theatre in April 2003.

Such was its success that it moved to the larger Cambridge Theatre in the West End, where it won the Olivier Award for best musical and will have played for 609 performances there by the time its run ends.

Despite its success, it largely went unchallenged by Christian protesters who are now campaigning against its content.


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



SEE ALSO:
BBC producer quits over Springer
12 Jan 05 |  Entertainment
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


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