Britain’s Got Talent
ITV1&2, 31 March 2012, 20:00 repeated at 13:00 and 19:00
Britain’s Got Talent: Live Semi-final
ITV1&2, 9 May 2012, 19:30 repeated at 16:00
Britain’s Got Talent is a talent series, broadcast on ITV1, which aims to find an unknown star from the general public to perform at the annual Royal Variety Performance.
The episode of Britain’s Got Talent broadcast on 31 March 2012 was pre-recorded and showed an early audition stage that took place in Blackpool. One of the performances in this programme was a burlesque act performed by a woman named Beatrix Von Bourbon. This item was shown at around 20:25. A total of 75 complainants alerted Ofcom to her act. In summary the complainants considered the performance was inappropriate for broadcast during a family show because it contained images and themes unsuitable for a child audience.
Ofcom noted that the programme included: a brief introductory piece about Beatrix Von Bourbon in which she explained that she had a background in ballet and tap dance; her two minute burlesque act performed to the audio track Feeling Good by the band Muse, during which she removed her skirt, jacket and bra (underneath she wore nipple tassels and her breasts were masked with an on-screen graphic), leaving her wearing a corset, knickers, stockings and shoes.
The live semi-final broadcast on 9 May 2012 starting at 19:30 also included a performance by Beatrix Von Bourbon. Ofcom noted that approximately one hour into this programme a brief introductory piece about Beatrix Von Bourbon was broadcast and her performance followed. It lasted approximately one and half minutes. She began by wearing a long sleeveless gown and gloves, both of which she then removed to reveal a pair of gold satin camisole knickers, shoes and a top that comprised a bra and large beaded necklace. While her back was turned to the audience, Beatrix Von Bourbon then removed this top and she concluded her act in this position. This shot of her was partially obscured by two assistants who held large ostrich feather fans. Prior to receiving feedback from the judges, she was handed a large, knee-length fur wrap to wear, which covered her torso and thighs.
Ofcom considered Rule 1.3:
Children must … be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.
Ofcom Decision: Not in breach of Ofcom rules
Ofcom is aware that some viewers may find the sexualised nature of burlesque performances potentially offensive. However we noted that the images of Ms Von Bourbon adopting mildly provocative positions and limited and partial nudity were fleeting, and the act itself was performed in the manner of a dance that required skill and training. As already pointed out Ofcom guidance states that:It is important to note that in pre-watershed content, Ofcom would not expect to see singers and dancers wearing clothing that does not adequately cover their bodies (in particular their breasts, genital area and buttocks). The performance included a very brief image of the performer’s partially obscured buttocks when she unzipped her skirt. We considered this image was on the margins of acceptability and remind the broadcaster to take particular note of Ofcom’s guidance cited above in future.
The programme is part of a long running series on ITV1 and ITV2 that includes a variety of acts that appeal to wide range of viewers including children and adults. We noted that the programme was repeated after its original broadcast on both services at various times of the day before the 21:00 watershed during the following six day period. We also noted that the format and style of the series, including the types of acts included, were similar in nature to the previous series that have been broadcast over recent years. In our opinion this programme, and in particular this burlesque performance by Ms Von Bourbon, would therefore not have exceeded the likely expectations of the vast majority of the ITV1 and ITV2 audience – either when originally broadcast or when repeated.
The performance and partial nudity was in Ofcom’s opinion appropriately limited and suitably brief in duration. We considered that while some forms of burlesque dancing would be considered inappropriate for a child audience, this performance was presented carefully by the broadcaster to take account of the pre- watershed audience and did not convey an overtly sexualised theme.
We therefore concluded, on balance, that this performance was appropriately scheduled and the broadcaster complied with Rule 1.3.