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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 March, 2005, 19:36 GMT 20:36 UK
Should BBC have shown Jerry Springer Opera?
David Soul as Jerry Springer
The BBC's board of governors has rejected thousands of complaints made over the broadcast of Jerry Springer - The Opera.

Church groups were unhappy about several scenes they considered blasphemous, including one in which an actor depicting Jesus wears a nappy.

But the governors' Programme Complaints committee voted by a 4-1 majority to reject the complaints stating that the show's artistic significance outweighed any offence which might have been caused.

However, the committee admitted that the offence caused to sizable numbers of viewers should not be taken lightly.

Do you agree with the decision made by the board of governors? Should the BBC have shown Jerry Springer - The Opera?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of views received so far:

I am pleased that the BBC showed the opera and let me decide for myself
Daniel Conway, London
I still don't understand how 55,000 people can complain before the show has been aired. Have they already seen the show in the West End, were offended by it, and thus decided that the rest of us should not be able to decide for ourselves? Or were they told it was offensive, and complained before seeing it and deciding for themselves? Either way I am pleased that the BBC showed the opera and let me decide for myself. I enjoyed it and took a lot from it.
Daniel Conway, London

I am appalled that the BBC can ignore 55,000 of its own licence payers' views in the name of "artistic license". If this show had been about Mohammed, it would have been stopped immediately because it would cause offence. Why are Christians the soft target?
Chris Perver, Bangor, NI

Of course they should have shown it. It was one of the funniest things I've seen on TV for years! Just because the BBC is public-funded how can it be expected to cater for 100% of its audience 100% of the time? As an agnostic, do I complain that my licence fee is spent producing 'Songs Of Praise'?
Paul B, Cupar, Scotland

I have seen the show on two occasions and absolutely loved it. There were people who got up and left during the show but I don't understand why. Everyone knows Jerry Springer and what he stands for, so why go in the first place anyway and spend 50 or so per ticket? I don't chose to watch Christian programmes on the TV nor do I bombard the BBC with letters of complaint regarding the spending of public money on these shows. So if the Christian fundamentalists are outraged about this, don't switch on, it's as simple as that.
Amanda, London, UK

We should be equal handed with all broadcasts and avoid censorship on any grounds. However, one has to ask that had this programme been a parody which included aspects of Muslim or Jewish faith in the same way, would it have been shown? I doubt it.
John, Watford, UK

Part of the BBC's role is to show programs and raise issues that a commercial station would not necessarily risk showing
Paul, Potton
Yes the BBC should have shown this. Part of the BBC's role is to show programs and raise issues that a commercial station would not necessarily risk showing. By showing the program, the BBC has created a forum in which we can debate the representation of religion and the right of criticism. If the BBC just bowed to pressure, there would be no debate and we may as well live in a country where no one can question or criticise religion! Not for me!
Paul, Potton

The BBC should not have put this on and would not have shown it had they had but a few thousand objections to any similar programme with offensive racist content, anti-gay content, or content offensive to Islam, Judaism or Hinduism for example. I watched the whole broadcast as I wanted to see what the fuss was about. This was trashy cheap satire of the worst kind and I am ashamed to be associated with it by supporting your institute financially each year. Shame on the BBC.
Steve, Bakewell, UK

If the complainers hadn't made such a fuss I probably would have overlooked the programme all together.
Martin Allen, Cheshire

I have read the report carefully. I am immensely disappointed that the BBC still believes that it has a right indeed a duty to disregard the strongly held views of religious people. I am deeply saddened that they seem able to compound the mistake of screening the show with the issuing of such a one-sided report.
David Green, Weston s Mare, UK

Fewer than 6% of UK citizens go to church. The vocal Christian right minority is trying to impose its outdated beliefs on the rest of the citizenry through unwarranted censorship of anything which does not unquestioningly support those beliefs.
Bill, Victoria, Canada

Surely the very fact that we are now having the debate we are, about what is offensive to certain groups and what isn't, is what makes it important that the show was aired. The very point of a piece of satire like 'Jerry Springer the Opera' is surely to provoke such comment and interest, and to thereby allow society to sit back and re-examine itself. A public service broadcaster should have a positive obligation to provoke such scrutiny of our culture.
Hazel, Truro, UK

Songs of praise offends me personally. Can I complain to the BBC to have it removed from the air, even though I've never seen it and have no intentions to watch? No, that would be hypocritical, but the reverse opinion doesn't seem to bother the religious right. Yes, it should have been shown. The show wasn't as bad as people made out at all. And if anyone thinks they are going to be offended, they don't have to watch. If they watch and are offended, they can switch off.
James Hadfield, Mansfield, UK

These days everyone seems to get hugely offended over just about anything
Kevin Bennett, Newton Abbot, UK
Congratulations to the committee for having reached a sensible decision. These days everyone seems to get hugely offended over just about anything and it's pleasing to see an official body that has spine enough to, effectively, tell the 'offended' to get a life.
Kevin Bennett, Newton Abbot, UK

Why is it now okay to be so disrespectful to Christians? I am wondering, if this show was about any other religious group would the BBC be so willing to offend? I watched most of it and found it rubbish. A waste of time and money. Both of which could have been better used on much better plays or shows. If the BBC want to be controversial then fine, but please don't waste my TV license fee on rubbish like this otherwise I think I will have a valid excuse not to pay it.
Genevieve Charles, London, UK

Yes, it was shown, and yes we could just move on, but it does seem that if it was any other religion than Christianity it would have been pulled off air. Christians put up with a lot more than some other religions - this was a step too far. For instance ... I put up with colleagues saying 'Jesus Christ' around me all day. How many Muslims would allow the name of their prophet Mohammed to be used in such a way without speaking out? Maybe Christians should be applauded for finally voicing their opinion strongly on such a matter. If you want to watch things like this, go to a theatre. It should not be for living room viewing.
Nikki, UK

The BBC were absolutely right to show this piece. I am proud of the BBC for pushing the boundaries of conventional programming and offering something interesting and thought-provoking instead of producing the boring, mediocre tripe peddled by the other terrestrial channels. Bravo BBC, this is the kind of broadcasting that makes me happy to pay my license fee.
Martin Hewitt, London

The BBC should not have shown this programme and this is why. To examine, even forcefully, the basis of any religion is fine: Any religion worth anything should welcome this. To deliberately ridicule the fundamental basis of any religion without any factual reason whether or not you agree with it is gratuitously offensive. The BBC has rejected these criticisms because they defend their own, however flawed they are. Giving a warning is no excuse for this type of deliberate offence. It should not have been aired, those who decided it should ought to be sacked.
Dr R Scott-Watson, Fairfield, UK

Yes, the BBC should have shown it, with all the warnings and safeguards that they used. I tuned in to watch some of it, and I didn't feel I could object to the enormous amount of bad language because I knew full well what to expect. And it's a nice balance to Songs of Praise.
Sarah, Reading, UK

A classic case of double standards. The BBC would not have dared to air a show which lampooned the Islamic faith in the way it did the Christian faith in the Jerry Springer Opera - a clear case of double standards and a lack of respect for the values and faith which are supposed to be inherently a part of the BBC charter.
Tim, Blandford Forum, UK

I doubt that the BBC would have shown a programme that is so offensive if it involved other religions
Maria, London
I am not religious and was aware that there would be swearing. But I was still shocked by the scenes in the second half of the performance and changed the channel as I thought it inappropriate. There are far better shows that could have been broadcast. It was obvious that it would cause offence and I doubt that the BBC would have shown a programme that is so offensive if it involved other religions.
Maria, London

The BBC stressed right from the off that some people would find the show highly offensive - even taking time during the break to reinforce the fact that the second act was even more controversial than the first. What is the BBC supposed to do? Canvas the opinions of all licence payers for each show and cancel said show if just one person objects?
Neil, Essex, UK

That 55,000 complaints were made BEFORE the programme aired says everything about those that protested. It is doubtful that many of them had ever seen the theatre production and had little idea about the satirical content. If it still offends them, then there is no reason why they can't switch off and let the rest of us enjoy what we can't afford to see in the West End?!
Peter, Bristol

The BBC were wrong to show this. Not that I am bothered about the moral implications of its content, whatever floats your boat I say. No, the whole thing was total rubbish. A waste of money which could have been spent creating new, interesting and educational television. If people want to see this rubbish, they could have paid to see it in the West End. It's a good job I have cable TV, lots other channels to choose from.
Howard Atkinson, Brighton

By examining what was shown on TV, future generations will be able to judge what kind of society existed in Britain. That obscene and blasphemous programmes were shown will prove how much British society has fallen over the past 50 years. The Jerry Springer show is another sign of the times in which people are no longer ashamed of showing and watching something which previous generations would have been disgusted with, and never allowed. The BBC at one time stood for quality programming, but alas, times have changed, and not for the better.
Peter Leyland, Newmarket, Canada

Why don't we get other plays or musicals from the West End?
Mark Tidmarsh, Brighton, England
Whilst I didn't mind in the slightest the BBC showing 'Jerry Springer - The Opera' - in fact I quite enjoyed it - one does have to question their motives. Why don't we get other plays or musicals from the West End, many of which have much more artistic merit - albeit less controversial. The governors of the BBC rejected the complaints - no surprise there. Talk about policing yourself!
Mark Tidmarsh, Brighton, England

There were enough warnings about this show so as to warn people of its nature. If they didn't want to watch it then turn the TV off!!! No-one forced them to watch it.
Emma, Castleford

I watched only the first half as I found it so appalling that I switched the television off. However, I know of many people that enjoyed the show both on stage and screen. The fact that some people, without even seeing the show, found the content to be objectionable should not deprive others of their right to view the programme. The BBC warned people in advance that the content was controversial. If any viewers felt that the show would offend their senses then they did not have to watch it.
Alan Cairns, Molesey, UK

This is an entirely predictable response from the BBC's governors. The BBC is rarely able to admit that it is wrong. After all, some 55,000 complainants were unaware that foul language and blasphemy is essential to demonstrate artistic significance.
Robin Davies, Carmarthen, Wales

The BBC is here to represent everyone's views
Fraser, Sheffield, UK
Yes, the BBC should have shown this. If the BBC were to expect me to pay my licence fee for a schedule of programmes that pandered to anyone's religious beliefs, I would refuse hands down. The BBC is here to represent everyone's views, not just the far-right religious.
Fraser, Sheffield, UK

It's official, the BBC has no common sense, no common decency and no sensitivity. Shock and schlock are in control. Good thing I pay a licence fee for all this. There was a time when the Beeb stood for quality. Long gone now.
James, Surrey

Yes, of course this programme should have been shown. The BBC's annual report shows that it broadcasts over 4,000 hours of religious programming, much of this as acts of worship which are a particularly one-sided form of television. It is time religious broadcasting followed the political mould, fawning less and questioning more. This is an overwhelmingly secular country now. The religious lobby is in a minority and has to acknowledge that programming is for the many, not the few.
Steven P. Thomas, Coventry, UK

Well, they did show it. Time to move on. Get over it.
Fraser, Essex, England

If the God squad can force the BBC to put Songs of Praise on BBC One at prime time every week, then I'm sure they can put up with a minority audience watching a one off on BBC Two. I pay my licence fee too, and I object to Christians forcing their agenda down my throat.
RS, Glasgow, UK

It's just too easy to get offended. What offends me the most is censorship.
Louis Lemieux, London, UK

BBC rejects Springer complaints
30 Mar 05 |  Entertainment

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