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Last Updated: Monday, 17 January, 2005, 17:30 GMT
Minister defends Springer opera
David Soul in Jerry Springer - The Opera
The opera received thousands of complaints when it was shown on TV
Arts minister Estelle Morris has supported the hit show Jerry Springer - The Opera after it came under fire in the Commons.

Ms Morris said she would rather allow people the right to free speech, than to introduce new legislation to try and prevent them from being offended.

"It is not and never should be a matter for government as to what is broadcast or printed," she said.

The show sparked thousands of complaints after BBC Two screened it.

Andrew Selous, Conservative MP for South West Bedfordshire, raised the issue in Commons question time on Monday.

Taxpayers

"Many people do not consider it appropriate for public service broadcasting to use taxpayers' money to fund programmes like Jerry Springer - The Opera, which offend so many people," he said.

But Ms Morris said she was in favour of the screening. "I accept that people throughout the country may have been offended," she said.

"But I would sooner run the risk of being offended than having artistic performances denied to me."

Labour MP Clive Soley, of Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush, also expressed his support for the show.

The producer of Jerry Springer - The Opera, Allan McKeown, told the Mail on Sunday the production was "entirely unsuitable" for a family audience and was liable to offend those watching at home.

Alarming

"It was conceived as a theatre experience for an audience who have paid to attend," Mr McKeown said.

"Language that is amusing within that collective experience can be offensive and alarming for a family in their own home."

The programme went out at 2200GMT on a Saturday evening.

  • Jerry Springer is to front a new radio show in the US city of Cincinnati, where he once served as mayor.

    The 60-year-old has said the show, which will be aired every weekday, will have a political theme, covering everything from the Bush administration and domestic issues to the situation in Iraq.

    He will continue to host his television talk show, on which Jerry Springer - The Opera is based.


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



    SEE ALSO:
    Springer musical to go on UK tour
    13 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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