Zoe Ambrozewska Staff Writer
Following last Friday’s (March 15) Red Nose Day TV broadcast, which lasted over seven hours and raised a record £75million for charities supported by Comic Relief, the BBC and Ofcom have received thousands of complaints!
The BBC received 2,819 complaints in total, 2,133 of which were concerning Rowan Atkinson’s appearance on the show, in a sketch as the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Mr. Bean star’s monologue was broadcast on BBC1 before the 7:45pm watershed, and saw him compare One Direction to Jesus’ disciples, use the word ‘shagging’, and stressing that he was “a young heterosexual man”. When the pre-recorded skit was played to the live studio audience at BBC Television Centre, an audible gasp could reportedly be heard as the ‘Arch’ said: “Keep on praying – it doesn’t work, but it’s a good part of a getting-to-sleep routine if you’ve got insomnia”.
The sketch has subsequently been removed from BBC iPlayer’s highlights of the show.
Ofcom (the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries) have additionally received over 400 complaints about the Red Nose Day broadcast.
With regards to the complaint the BBC have said, "Comic Relief night features seven hours of live television and is known for pushing at the boundaries of comedy alongside heartfelt appeal films. It is made for a varied and wide-ranging audience, so getting the language, tone and content of the evening is extremely important to us… to any viewers we may have offended, we apologise”, adding "Rowan is well known for his comedy characters and this was an affectionate portrayal of an Archbishop figure, which was intended to amuse and entertain. We did not mean to cause any offence."
You can read the full text of Atkinson’s skit here:
“It’s very delightful and apt that as your new Archbishop of Canterbury – hello! – I should be able to talk to you on the occasion of Children in Need, or Red Nose Day as some of the younger people amongst us – hello to you too! – like to say.
When I was a young man – and may I stress a young heterosexual man with quite a few girlfriends, but no tongues obviously, teenagers beware! - charity was much less fun that it is now. However, behind the fun, or arsing about, as I like to call it, ha ha ha! – God doesn’t mind swearing, you know – there was a more serious message. And it’s my job as your new “Arch” – call me what you like, it’s not about titles, is it? – to remind you of the spiritual dimension of a night like this.
Jesus said love your neighbour – and let’s be perfectly clear, because there’s a lot of misunderstanding about this, he doesn’t mean shag your neighbour. He hates that. Absolutely hates it. Though as I say, he doesn’t mind the word shagging, he’s got a terrific sense of humour. He doesn’t like the f-word that describes the same thing. He thinks that’s very rude.
But anyway, Jesus said love your neighbour as yourself. And so when you give money to Children’s Nose Day, you’re actually loving your neighbour – and that’s brilliant.
So in a way, even though what you think you’re doing is watching One Direction singing their fabulous new sound – I love One Direction and so does Jesus, they remind him of the disciples – what you’re actually watching is Christianity in action, and that’s my message. If you love the Lord, please donate tonight.
If you love the Dark Lord, you – ha ha ha ha! – you’ve been reading too many Harry Potter books! You see, I’m terrifically up-to-date and humorous. I think they should make a movie of those books, it’d be brilliant. Possibly Simon Cowell as Snape. But what do I know? I’m an Archbishop of Canterbury, not a movie director.
Anyway, I hope I’ll be able to talk to you more often like this but for now, from all of us in the good old C of E, have a wonderful night, keep on giving, keep on laughing, keep on praying – it doesn’t work, but it’s a good part of a getting-to-sleep routine if you’ve got insomnia.
Happy Easter by the way. Coming soon! Big day. Lots of chocolate, lots of rabbits, one rip-roaring resurrection. Almost as much fun as Children’s Comic Relief In Need Nose Day, I think. Thank you. Good night.”
You can read our round-up of the Red Nose Day telethon here.
So what do you think? Are people simply overreacting? Or was Atkinson’s sketch inappropriate to show before the watershed? We want to know your thoughts!