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Last Updated: Friday, 7 January, 2005, 05:52 GMT
Jerry Springer: the unholy row
David Soul playing Jerry Springer
Should the BBC go ahead with the show despite 15,000 complaints?
The controversial stage show 'Jerry Springer the Opera' has attracted a lot of attention since it opened at the Cambridge theatre in London.

Loosely based on the TV chat shows hosted by Springer, the stage production is liberally peppered with sexual references and swear words.

And now the BBC is facing tough criticism over its decision to screen the show to a peak-time Saturday night audience.

  • This morning, Breakfast found out why the BBC's so committed to screening the show - and why its detractors hate it so much

  • We debated the issues with Will Wyatt, who's a former MD of BBC TV - and evangelical campaigner Rev Dr David Hilborn.

  • We talked to the star of the show, David Soul - and Miranda Suit, from Mediawatch UK, the organisation which campaigns against racism, sexism and violence in the media

    What you told Breakfast
    The BBC has sold out to the gutter by intending to broadcast 'Jerry Springer - The Opera'.
    Derek Wilson, Bognor Regis
    Why should people object? They have a remote control and they don't have to watch
    Ian Grady, North West

    Blasphemous

    The show won the best new musical in last year's Olivier awards. It contains hundreds of highly offensive swearwords but has also caused anger because it includes a song by tap dancing Ku Klux Klan members.

    It also been accused of being blasphemous because of a scene featuring a row between Jesus and Satan.

    One MP has described the show as 'highly objectionable' and leading church figures have condemned the BBC.

    Boundaries

    The BBC has received thousands of complaints ahead of Saturday's programme which will be shown BBC Two at 2200 (GMT).

    It forms part of an evening of programmes including biography and trivia about Jerry Springer and a look behind the scenes of the infamous chat show.

    Springer Opera
    I judged that it would be impossible to censor or adapt the language without undermining the piece. Of course it won't be to everyone's taste and that's a risk you take when you broadcast serious work.
    Roly Keating, Controller, BBC Two

    The controller of BBC Two, Roly Keating, said that the programme will 'push back the boundaries of taste and decency', but the lobby group Mediawatch UK described the programme as 'pig-sty television'.

    There have been more than 15,000 complaints before the programme has even aired, but a spokeswoman for the corporation said that many of these were part of an organised campaign.

    Mr Keating added that it would be impossible to censor or adapt the language without undermining the piece.

    "Of course it won't be to everyone's taste and that's a risk you take when you broadcast serious work."



  • BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
    Jerry Springer, the opera
    The BBC's Sophie Hutchinson reports on the controversial West End musical


    Should the show be televised?
    We talked to former BBC Managing Director, Will Wyatt and evangelical Christian Rev David Hilborn


    Does the show have artistic merit?
    We talked to its star, David Soul - and Miranda Suit of Mediawatch



    BBC Breakfast

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