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The BBC's Torin Douglas
"The commission said jokes about death were not necessarily unacceptable"
 real 28k

Thursday, 27 January, 2000, 05:40 GMT
Channel 4 rapped over Dando

The Jill Dando reference caused "widespread offence"

A satirical series on Channel 4 has been criticised by the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) for making an "offensive" reference to murdered TV newsreader Jill Dando.

The item on the The 11 O'Clock Show could have caused "widespread public offence", said BSC's monthly report, published on Thursday.

The report listed six viewer complaints about "death jokes" on the 26 October episode of The 11 O'Clock Show, which is fronted by Iain Lee and Daisy Donovan.

One referred to Cilla Black's husband, Bobby Willis, who had recently died of cancer and another to golfer Payne Stewart, killed in a mysterious plane crash.

'Not justified'

In its defence, Channel 4 argued the Dando item had been meant to criticise the high public costs of the investigation into her murder, and the ongoing ratings war between BBC One and ITV.

But in its report, the commission said the reference to Jill Dando was made at a time when a murder investigation was still under way, was not justified by the channel's argument, and was likely to have caused "widespread offence".

It is not the first time The 11 O'Clock Show has courted controversy.

It was recently criticised by the Independent Television Commission for poking fun at the victims of a massacre in Armenia just hours after it happened.

The show also features cult comedian Ali G, whose "bogus homeboy" image has been criticised by some black comedians who claim it is a racist stereotype.

A spokesman for the programme said the commission's comments would be taken on board but she added: "We are always sensitive to the treatment of a subject, but The 11 O'Clock Show is a show designed to be at the cutting edge of satirical humour and it will continue to present provocative material."

'Cries of the injured'

Among the other programmes against which complaints were upheld was news magazine London Tonight, which drew criticism for its "overly intrusive" coverage of the Paddington rail crash.

Cries of the injured and dying were heard on London Tonight
London Tonight was criticised for using a soundtrack which featured someone crying for help to accompany images of the Paddington rail disaster on the night of the crash.

The commission concluded: "While it accepted that the programme as a whole had sought to combine accuracy with sensitivity, it took the view that the inclusion of sounds of people crying for help in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy had been overly intrusive and had exceeded acceptable bounds."

A spokesman for London News Network, which produces the show for Carlton Television, said: "We devoted our entire programme on that day to coverage of the Paddington crash, and I think we conveyed the full impact of the shock and poignancy of it.

"We felt we took a reasonable decision based on what we thought viewers' expectations would be."

Also criticised in the report was Jonathan Ross's Radio 2 show on 13 November, in which said he would have to use the date rape drug Rohypnol to attract a guest, Prime Suspect star Helen Mirren.

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See also:
17 Jan 00 |  Entertainment
Hamilton 'shared joint' with Ali G
11 Jan 00 |  Entertainment
Racism rap for Ali G
18 Jan 00 |  UK
Internet clues to Dando 'stalker'

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