Duh! I missed a bit!…TV censors who were a bit slow to delete a ‘fuck’ from Monty Python Live forgiven by Ofcom.

Posted: 7 October, 2014 in Ofcom TV Censor
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TV censors own up to missing a bit

Monty Python Live (Mostly) was a live broadcast of the final stage performance of the remaining members of Monty Python at London’s O2 arena, on the classic comedy channel Gold.

Ofcom received two complaints about offensive language being used during the broadcast. Ofcom noted the following exchange around 19:24. It was part of a sketch involving Australian Bruce characters, where all the performers on stage wore the same khaki shirts, shorts and hats with corks hanging from them, and spoke with Australian accents.

Eric Idle: Have we got anything? Punk Bruce, can you give us a hand?

Bruce character: [Off-screen] I can give him a hand here.

Eric Idle: Oi, oi, stop that Bruce. You, oi. [Produces a football referees’ red card] Straight off, off. Go on. Off. Fuck off. [A loud bleep was then heard]

At 20:55, the presenter of the programme Dara O’Briain said the following:

One thing I must explain, viewers at home missed certain parts of the show. And this I have to explain, Gold would like to explain, was not their choice. In particular, it was these two later verses of the penis song, the second was about bottoms and the third about lady gardens, that’s the most polite way I can put this. This is all regarded by Ofcom as being a little bit too much at 7:46 in the evening. Equally some bad language was bleeped. Gold obviously want to apologise for that, being the policy they have to make because of Ofcom. By the way, one naughty swearword, by the way, did slip through. So I apologise for that. And I want my face to indicate a level of professional sincerity as I read those words off the autocue. I cannot apologise enough.

Licensee UKTV said it had decided to put in place a three minute delay on the live feed of the performances from the venue to enable its compliance team to bleep the language where necessary. It said the scripted language was:

Successfully bleeped throughout Part 1 but unfortunately an unscripted fuck was not successfully bleeped…the bleep [came] in fractionally too late. This was the result of human error…¦for which we sincerely apologise.

The Licensee said its compliance team then: instructed host Dara O’Briain to apologise to viewers for the missed language.

Ofcom Decision

Rule 1.14 states that the most offensive language must not be broadcast before the watershed. Ofcom research on offensive language1 clearly notes that the word fuck and other variations of this word are considered by audiences to be among the most offensive language, particularly when used in an aggressive manner.

The broadcast of the word fuck in this programme around 19:24 was therefore a clear example of the most offensive language being broadcast before the watershed.

However, Ofcom took into account that the Licensee had chosen to take measures before the programme to minimise the risk of offensive language being broadcast by delaying the on-air feed, that the use of fuck was not scripted, and that the host of the programme apologised on air after the incident. In light of these factors Ofcom considered the matter resolved.


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