Is TV Too Rude? Asking before 9pm was pointless…

by Lynn Connolly

On the night of Jonathan Ross’s return to his chat show following the Andrew Sachs controversy, Tonight explored whether or not broadcasters have gone too far in stretching the boundaries of taste and decency.

Jonathan Maitland presented the show which basically consisted of having a panel of TV watchers from across the spectrum of age groups, social class etc., to whom he showed a variety of clips and asked them to ‘buzz in’ when they found something offensive.

They were shown clips from Little Britain USA as well as several clips from Jonathan Ross’s shows including THE up-cock when he and Russell Brand called Andrew Sachs. Also featured was Ross’s interview with Gwyneth Paltrow and David Cameron in which Ross used explicit language.

One of my favourite TV personalities, Janet Street-Porter was a guest on the show and she informed us that she doesn’t watch Ross’s show at all but she had seen the infamous ‘Manuelgate’ footage.

She, like most likeminded people, was horrified by it.

Jana Bennett, the BBC Director of Vision was asked to comment upon swearing and profanity on TV in general, but particularly with reference to Ross and Brand’s call to Sachs, to which she replied, “It felt like something we shouldn’t be broadcasting”. Well I guess insight like that is why she gets the big bucks eh?

Her concluding thought with regard to all of Ross’s ‘humour’ in his shows was, “The spirit of it is not trying to be disrespectful”

Ross and Brand’s call to Sachs – rightly – racked up a whopping 42,800 complaints from viewers and of course prompted Brand to resign and Ross to be suspended.

The show undertook a survey of viewers for the show which concluded that 51% of us viewing public think there’s too much swearing on TV. Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay were held up as ‘good’ examples of how much swearing is permitted on our screens.

One member of the panel remarked though that he thought Jamie’s swearing detracted from his message regarding healthy eating. He was referring to a clip the panel were shown of Jamie’s campaign to get people cooking proper meals at home. He went on at some length to explain that rather than listen to Jamie’s ‘message’ people instead would focus on his swearing and not remember the point of what he was saying… but he had watched the series and went on about how good his campaign was.

So, he’d clearly watched it – swearing and all – and still understood the point of the show but I assume he felt that everyone else watching must be of a lesser intellect and couldn’t absorb the main text of the show for all the F words. Think again fella, we’re not all thick.

Ditto Gordon Ramsay; a clip from his Kitchen Nightmares USA was shown which many of the panel objected to and said they wouldn’t broadcast given the choice, but as one intelligent young man pointed out, we do have the luxury of freedom of speech and off buttons, so if you don’t like Gordon’s swearing, turn off! I love him and he can swear his head off as far as I’m concerned!

Here’s the clip that was shown of Gordon sincerely losing his rag with the chef of a restaurant that he was trying to help turn around…

Jonathan then moved on to the subject of nudity and sex on TV and while 67% of those surveyed for the show felt standards in TV were generally declining, just 35% thought there was too much sex and nudity on TV.

The panel were shown a clip from Katie and Peter, The Next Chapter however, as Is TV Too Rude was shown before the 9pm watershed, we the viewers weren’t shown the clip so that was kinda pointless. I had no idea what it was the K&P had done that was so shocking…

Apropos of the watershed, 60% of people reckon that the 9pm watershed is at the right time while 24.6% believe it’s too early.

You can see get a taste of what the show was all about in this clip.

What do you think? Is there too much swearing, naughty nookie and offensive content on our TV screens? And if it’s going to be broadcast, should the watershed be later than 9pm or do you think, like me, if you don’t like it, turn over or just don’t let your kids have the remote!

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Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.