I am hugely gemused to read of the hooh hah whipped up by certain shouty sections of the tabloid press and Mary Whitehouse wannabees, over a scripted "joke" made by Sandi Toksvig on BBS radio's The News Quiz.
"It's the Tories who have put the 'n' into cuts."
Not screamingly funny, and most certainly not original. I would have thought that the script writers could have done better than that.
Anyhoo, needless to say the real issue (ie the BBC's political bias) has been overridden and hijacked, by an eruption of moralising from the tabloids and Mary Whitehouse wannabees over swearing on the radio.
As can be clearly seen from the quote, Ms Toksvig did not swear. Those who know the word she was referring to will understand the "joke", and those that don't won't.
Needless to say Auntie (the BBC) has made a complete hash of handling the barrage of abuse levelled at for using the swear word (which it didn't).
Auntie received a complaint from Colin Harrow (retired General Manager of Mirror Group newspapers) about the "joke" being offensive.
The programme was cleared by Paul Mayhew Archer, then commissioning editor of Radio 4 Comedy, who wrote back to Mr Harrow:
"If my job was simply not to risk offending any listeners I could have cut it instantly.
But that is not my job.
My job here was to balance the offence it might cause some listeners against the delight it might give other listeners.
For good or ill, the word does not seem to have quite the shock value it did.
I am not saying this is a good thing. I am simply saying that I think attitudes shift."
All of which is perfectly reasonable. However, the key issue is that Ms Toksvig did not swear..PERIOD!
Needless to say all and sundry are now tryinmg to grab the "moral majority" headlines. John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, called for Ofcom to investigate.
"That word is way out in front in terms of people finding it offensive, and I think to broadcast it on radio at 6.30pm is inappropriate. Even though they did it by implication, nobody was left in any doubt about what was meant....
But I would expect them to be aware of the risk that children might be listening, especially at such an early hour."
Won't someone think of the children!!! (who of course never swear).
For fark's sake, Ms Toksvig didn't use the word!
The issue is not the non swearing by Toksvig, nor the fuss hyped by the tabloids, but the use of a mainstream programme broadcast on the "unbiased" BBC to pursue a political agenda and useing an appallingly old joke in the process.
By all means criticise the BBC, if they have breached their charter by pursuing a political agenda and for using an old joke. However, don't let the tabloids and wannabee Mary Whitehouses hijack the issue for their own purposes and agenda.
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