Browned off: BBC fails to see offence in TV ‘joke’

By Sandy Rashty, January 23, 2014
Brendan O’Carroll and the cast of Mrs Brown’s Boys

Brendan O’Carroll and the cast of Mrs Brown’s Boys

Viewers of the popular BBC sitcom Mrs Brown’s Boys have complained about a joke in the Christmas Day episode of the programme.

One complainant said the BBC in its response had failed to address his point about racism.

The episode showed characters playing a quiz game devised by a dyslexic character, Buster.

Mrs Brown, played by actor Brendan O’Carroll, points out a spelling mistake in a question about the name of “a film and book about a great white shark?” The answer she reads out is “Jews” instead of “Jaws”.

The viewer from Finchley, north-west London, was one of three who complained. He described the joke as “at worst unequivocally racist” and a “horrible jibe”.

In response, the BBC’s complaints department wrote to him, referring to the issue of “bad language” rather than racism.

The letter said that “bad language” was sometimes used in programmes to reflect “plausibly the way people actually speak”.

It added: “It is inevitable that programmes which are acceptable to some will occasionally strike others as distasteful”.

The BBC “would never deliberately set out to cause offence”.

The viewer said he had called the BBC pointing out its failure to answer his accusation of racism, and was awaiting a further response.

Last updated: 11:33am, February 20 2014