Page last updated at 12:31 GMT, Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Skinner to examine swearing on TV

Frank Skinner
Skinner says swearing should be used sparingly on TV

Comedian Frank Skinner is to make a special edition of BBC's Panorama programme about swearing, and taste and decency, on television.

Skinner, who has experimented with dropping swearing from his act, has spoken to all the major broadcasters for the show.

The 51-year-old's programme will be aired in early February.

It follows a call last month from ITV head Michael Grade for broadcasters to cut down on "indiscriminate" swearing.

He spoke in the wake of a row over offensive calls made by presenters Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand on Brand's Radio 2 show.

The pair left lewd voicemail messages for 78-year-old Andrew Sachs about the Fawlty Towers actor's granddaughter, Georgina Baillie.

'Back off'

Last month, Skinner told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he had performed a gig without using bad language, as an experiment to freshen up his act.

I don't want people using so much swearing that there's a blanket ban because there won't be then any room for the clever swearing - the beautiful, eloquent swearing
Frank Skinner

As a result, he has now cut down significantly on the amount swearing he uses in his performances.

He also told Today he agreed with Grade that there was now too much swearing on TV.

"I don't want people using so much swearing that there's a blanket ban because there won't be then any room for the clever swearing - the beautiful, eloquent swearing," he said.

"So I just think we need to back off on the stuff that's not necessary."

Panorama producers believe this stance makes him highly qualified to examine the issue.

They say it is rare for non-journalists to make Panorama programmes and that celebrities are only asked to front the show when they can bring their own perspective to an issue.

Previous such programme makers have included Blur bassist Alex James, who looked at the cocaine industry in Colombia, and writer Bill Bryson, who investigated the UK's attitude to littering.

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