Tag Archives: BBC. comic relief

Is Religion Exempt From Satire According To The BBC? Clarification and Your Action Required


Red Nose Day (Comic Relief) is a biennial UK telethon event, which aims to raise money for charity.  The hook is on the promise of entertainment in the form of famous faces ‘doing something funny for money’. It is hoped that this will attract viewers, and hopefully donations along with it.  (Our team raised over 10k! Just saying)

Over the years, some incredibly talented, hilarious performers and Lenny Henry have appeared during the TV event to participate in various skits, some live, some pre-recorded, some funny, some cringe-worthy. It doesn’t matter, it’s all for a good cause.

This year, Rowan Atkinson of Blackadder and Mr. Bean notoriety gave his time to appear via a pre-recorded sketch.  In the sketch, he appears in character (tongue firmly in cheek) as the ‘New Archbishop of Canterbury’.  Rather than provide an exhaustive description of the, in my view, rather tame contents, you can watch it in full below (until the inevitable swooping of BBC Ninjas):

After the initial live broadcast over 2,000 complaints were received, only a quarter of which, were related to the religious content. This prompted the BBC to issue an apology in conjunction with complete removal of the ‘offending’ skit from their online, on demand service, iPlayer.

I pressed the official iPlayer Twitter account for more details regarding their conclusion that the content was so inappropriate as to merit complete removal from its services.  They were kind enough to direct me to a pre-existing statement, an excerpt of which, is below:

It was clear from this feedback that the Rowan Atkinson sketch was problematic for a number of different reasons, with many viewers noting the subject matter, the language used and its placing early in the evening. It is clear to us that this sketch did not translate as we had hoped and as a direct result of viewer feedback we took a swift decision to remove this from BBC iPlayer.

I requested further clarification from the BBC on some key points, but as of yet, I have not received a response.


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