According to the ever ludicrous Daily Mail:
The BBC has been hit with a ‘flood’ of complaints over a ‘harrowing’ sex attack scene in crime drama Silent Witness.
Viewers were ‘appalled’ at the ‘graphic’ violence on the BBC1 series this week, contacting the broadcaster in their hundreds to register ‘anger’.
As well as a scene in which a murderous prison guard carried out a prolonged sexual assault on a man, apparently using a baton, the programme also featured ‘explicit’ images of a man having his throat cut.
Although the show aired after the watershed, a few viewers said the assault was graphic and nasty and went too far.
There have been about 500 complaints about two episodes, with the BBC receiving 483 and TV censor Ofcom a further 35. The complaints will be assessed by Ofcom.
A large number related to the scenes where prison officer Daniel Kessler was shown attacking a drug dealer in a toilet. Viewers heard the violence being carried out in a closed cubicle and saw blood seep from beneath the door. The man’s half-dressed body was later seen as the prison guard emerged from the cubicle. While the attack was not shown in full, the use of sound, including the maniacal comments of the killer and the screams of the victim, left viewers in little doubt what was happening.
A BBC statement said the scene was not an attempt to gratuitously shock the audience but was rooted in character and research and showed the brutality that Kessler was capable of. We don’t feel the content of these episodes would have gone beyond viewers expectations We’re sorry if you [viewers] felt we got it wrong on this occasion.’
Update: BBC Response
29th April 2012. See article from bbc.co.uk
We’ve received complaints from some viewers who felt the two part instalment of Silent Witness entitled Redhill was too violent.
As programme makers we take our responsibility to the audience extremely seriously and try to make sure we strike the right balance between compelling drama without being unnecessarily graphic. Towards the end of the first episode we had established that DI Bridges and Officer Kessler had previously worked together and that he was the one very much in control. The final scene was not an attempt to gratuitously shock the audience; it was rooted in character and research, showing just what DI Bridges was prepared to do for her colleague for the sake of her family, as well as the brutality that Kessler was capable of.
We acknowledge that certain scenes may have been challenging, but we filmed and presented them in such a way as to make sure that although as a viewer the implication was there, it was never actually shown.
Silent Witness is now in its 15th series and we believe the general tone and content is widely recognised by its regular audience. It’s fair to say the show is known for tackling challenging stories and exploring adult themes and we don’t feel the content of these episodes would have gone beyond viewer’s expectations.
As well as scheduling the series after the 9pm watershed, we made sure the content was widely publicised and gave a warning before both episodes which on Sunday stated:
…With scenes some viewers might find upsetting and violent scenes.
….With graphic violent scenes and some scenes which some viewers might find upsetting, Silent Witness.
We’re sorry if you felt we got it wrong on this occasion.