Page last updated at 17:30 GMT, Monday, 12 January 2009

Religious sketch cleared by Ofcom

Rowan Atkinson
Aktinson is well-known for his comedic depictions of clergymen

Media watchdog Ofcom has cleared ITV1 over a religious comedy sketch by Rowan Atkinson which prompted more than 500 complaints.

It was broadcast during a comedy gala performance to mark the 60th birthday of the Prince of Wales.

Atkinson played a clergyman delivering a humorous version of a Biblical miracle story.

Ofcom said the comic's sketch was not intended to be realistic and did not breach its rules.

The watchdog says there was evidence the complaints, which accused ITV of blasphemy, were part of an orchestrated campaign.

'Well understood'

Atkinson delivered the sketch, broadcast on ITV1 on 15 November, as if reciting from the Bible to a congregation, describing Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana.

He said: "And when the steward of the feast did taste of the water from the pots, it had become wine.

"And they said unto the Lord: 'How the hell did you do that?' And inquired of him: 'Do you do children's parties?'"

Ofcom said the sketch was an absurd interpretation of a well-known Biblical story and was not intended as a serious interpretation of Christian belief, adding the approach would have been "well understood by the vast majority of the audience".

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