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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 June 2007, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
Channel 4's legacy of controversy
The row over Channel 4's Princess Diana documentary is just the latest controversy in which the British broadcaster has been embroiled.

Indeed, very few of its 25 years in operation have gone by without some headline-grabbing incident or public outcry.

Here are some of the key controversial moments in Channel 4's history.


The fledgling Channel 4 thought it was onto a winner with this pop music show featuring children singing chart-topping hits.

But the show was attacked for putting girls in adult clothes and make-up and encouraging them to perform provocative routines.

"Does the show thrust premature sexual awareness onto its wide-eyed performers?" asked the Observer.

A planned second series was cancelled in the wake of the public furore.


Channel 4 thought it could get away with screening 18-rated films in late-night slots if it placed a content warning on screen.

Mary Whitehouse
Whitehouse campaigned against the Red Triangle initiative
Titles shown included Themroc, a French film featuring scenes of incest and cannibalism, and the sexually explicit Montenegro.

The season was attacked in the media and by Mary Whitehouse's National Viewers' and Listeners' Association.

Though the films themselves drew large audiences, the practice was discontinued shortly afterwards.


Phil Redmond's gritty Liverpool-set soap began in 1982 on Channel 4's first night, courting controversy from the off with a series of hard-hitting storylines.

Anna Friel
Anna Friel became synonymous with her Brookside role
Of all its key moments, however, the one that got everyone talking was Beth Jordache's lesbian kiss in December 1993.

Shown just before the watershed, it was the first scene of its kind screened on British TV and made a star of actress Anna Friel.

It also paved the way for Queer as Folk, the channel's 1999 series about gay men living in Manchester.


Satirist Chris Morris provoked a flood of complaints with a one-off Brass Eye special about paedophilia.

In one scene a so-called paedophile was held in a stock and asked if he was attracted to a young boy in the studio.

The show was attacked for trivialising a serious issue and for duping such celebrities as Phil Collins and Kate Thornton into appearing.

Channel 4 was ordered to broadcast an apology by the Independent Television Commission.


Almost three million viewers watched illusionist Derren Brown survive his controversial Russian Roulette stunt in October 2003.

Derren Brown
Derren Brown's stunt was shown with a 15-minute delay
Police claimed it could inspire copycat incidents, though it was later reported that the bullets used had been blanks.

Complaints that the show had promoted gun culture were rejected by the Broadcasting Standards Commission.

Brown risked further censure in 2004 when his live TV "seance" become one of the most complained about shows in broadcasting history, although his show was cleared of any wrongdoing.


The allegedly racist bullying of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty by her fellow Celebrity Big Brother housemates provoked an international incident.

Protest in India
The Big Brother race row caused widespread outrage in India
Questions were raised in Parliament, effigies were burned in India and crowds were banned from attending Jade Goody's eviction.

Channel 4 bosses defended the programme, saying it was "a good thing" it had provoked a debate.

But Ofcom ruled the station had breached its code of conduct and ordered it to make a number of on-air apologies.


In 1987 presenter Jools Holland was rapped for swearing during a live advert for music show The Tube.

The reaction, however, was minor compared to the one that greeted the screening of a live autopsy in 2002, conducted by Professor Gunther von Hagens.

A 2004 documentary showing a woman undergoing an abortion pushed boundaries further, as did last year's alternative Christmas message from a British Muslim woman in a veil.

Channel 4's digital offshoot More 4, meanwhile, created headlines of its own by staging the assassination of George W Bush in its film Death of a President.

In 2007, a contestant on reality show Shipwrecked was accused of racism, while The Richard and Judy Show began a wave of revelations about phone-in practices which spread to other channels.

With the ongoing Diana row, station executives can be assured Channel 4 will continue to make headlines.

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