Watson & Oliver
BBC Two, 7 March 2012, 7.30pm
Watson & Oliver features two comedians, Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver, who perform a live act including shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. This was their first series on television: a comedy sketch show featuring pre-recorded sketches mixed with comedy routines in front of a studio audience. Regular characters, such as the Georgian Ladies and Candy and April, the Playboy Bunnies, are featured. This complaint concerns the third episode.
A complainant complained about the sexually explicit language and innuendo . He said that he was watching with his 5-year-old child and was appalled that terms such as slutty, genital frenzy, here’s my jugs etc… were used. He specifically mentioned sketches featuring the Playboy bunnies and James Bond.
The BBC’s Head of Comedy explained that Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver had established a reputation for unashamedly silly comedy which has broad appeal and which therefore sits well pre-watershed . The Head of Comedy accepted that some of the sketches contained a degree of innuendo but felt they were cheeky and mischievous rather than overtly sexual in tone . He quoted the Daily Telegraph’s review …it has a rare sense of comic mischief that teases but doesn’t offend . Only one other complaint had been received, which he felt indicated that the vast majority of viewers found it acceptable for the timeslot .
The complainant was not convinced and the complaint was escalated to the Editorial Standards Committee who considered 3 sketches.
This sketch is entitled Absolutely No Sense and Sensibility and features two Georgian ladies pursuing two gentlemen, Sir Thomas and Mr Bridgewater. During the sketch, the two ladies prepare a picnic for the gentlemen and are trying to tempt them to eat. It includes the following dialogue:
- Oliver: Now, might you be persuaded to a mouthful of my juicy apple dumplings?
- Watson: Sir Thomas, can I tempt you to a handful of my sweet macaroons?
- Oliver: Surely you will not say no to a nibble on my almond puffs?
- Watson: Roly polys, Sir Thomas?
- Oliver: Fruit jellies?
- Watson: Peachy fritters?
- Oliver: Biscuits?
- Watson: Syllabubs?
- Oliver: French pancakes.
- Watson: Fried eggs?
- Oliver: Jugs. (holds up 2 glass jugs)
- Watson: Melons? (holds up two melons)
- Oliver: Tits on a plate?
- Mr Bridgewater: I beg your pardon? (Oliver holds up a plate with two fake blue tits sitting on it)
The second sketch is entitled Living with the Playboy Bunnies in which the two comedians appear dressed in the Playboy bunny outfits. The audience has seen a picture of an old man making a gurning face and when he calls to them off camera to join him, the two playboy bunnies argue about whose turn it is:
- Oliver/Candy: Well, I did Sexy Saturday
- Watson/April: I did Slutty Sunday
- Oliver/Candy: I did Missionary Monday.
- Watson/April: I did Tantric Tuesday.
- Oliver/Candy: I did Whipped Cream Wednesday.
- Watson/April: I did Threesome Thursday! On my own!
- Oliver/Candy: Well, I’m not doing it. You still owe me for Viagra Valentines
The third sketch features a pastiche of the James Bond films. Lorna Watson has received a letter informing her that she is being considered for the part of a Bond Girl. She comments:
- Watson: Well, I presume they’re looking for someone with the face of a supermodel and a body that screams Hello, I’m sexually dangerous .
- Ingrid Oliver then asks her the name of the part, she replies:
- Watson: Jenny Talfrenzy.
- Oliver: Jenny Talfrenzy? Jenny Tal-, genital frenzy?
- Watson: I presume she’s Italian.
The Committee noted that the series had received 23 complaints in total. For this episode, two people complained about the sexual content at 7.30pm. There were a further six complaints about other episodes, all referring to the Playboy bunny sketch, where viewers found the humour too sexual .
The Committee appreciated that the BBC had a long record of using cheeky sexual innuendos with humour and without causing offence in TV and radio comedy. Indeed, many of the BBC’s traditional comedy classics relied on it. The Committee concluded that the sketches would be unlikely to offend an adult audience. The Committee also agreed that the sketches featuring the two Georgian ladies would be unlikely to cause concerns with regard to protecting children.
However, the Committee agreed with the complainant that some parts of the other two sketches were questionable for this time of the evening before the watershed in terms of protecting children. In particular, the Committee was concerned with the overall tone of the Playboy bunny sketch which contained sexual jokes and gestures. The Committee also felt that in the James Bond sketch it was debatable if it was appropriate to clearly articulate genital frenzy when referring to the Bond girl’s name as Jenny Talfrenzy
The Committee was mindful that, for well-established series at 7.30pm, parents and carers would be able to make a judgement as what was suitable for their children to view. In this case, with a new series, parents could not reasonably be expected to have prior knowledge of the content. The Committee agreed that, in these circumstances, programme-makers should bear in mind that at this time of the evening some younger children may still be watching television. For this reason, the Committee believed that some of the content of this programme was at the margins of acceptability for this time of the evening. The Committee considered that even a slightly later slot of 8pm would have reduced the likelihood of those under 7 years of age watching it.
However, the Committee took into consideration that by 7.30 in the evening there is an increasingly adult audience watching television and the audience of younger children is declining. The Committee accepted that this comedy show would be unlikely to appeal to young children and that, in general, the schedule for BBC Two was not aimed at them.
The Committee concluded that overall the comic innuendos (which would be beyond the comprehension of the youngest children) did not breach generally accepted standards or the guidelines regarding scheduling and the watershed which are there to protect younger viewers.
The Committee concluded that this programme was not in breach of the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines. However, the Committee expected the BBC to take note of its comments