Ofcom has weighed up the slew of complaints generated by the Brit Awards - and, in particular, the bit which consisted of Sharon Osbourne screeching obscenities at Vic Reeves - and decided that it's alright, really:
Ofcom noted that, although this show is aimed at a mixed audience rather than children specifically, it was aired during half-term for many schools. However, over the years it has not attracted large numbers of the youngest viewers. As with previous years, this year’s coverage was also scheduled later in the evening, bridging the 21:00 watershed.
The incident between Sharon Osbourne and Vic Reeves, which many viewers highlighted, occurred around 21:35 . During the presentation of an award, which Vic Reeves was having some difficulty announcing, Sharon Osbourne turned to him and said: “Get on with it, you pisshead”, and shortly afterwards, “Shut up you’re pissed, piss off! Piss off you bastard. . . piss off”.
While we understand that this language may have been offensive to some viewers, it was broadcast after the watershed and in a programme with a particular reputation. We believe that regular viewers would have been aware of the likelihood of this kind of material. Further, Ofcom research indicates that the examples of language quoted are generally considered quite mild.
To which we can only say: piss off, surely?
Admittedly, the swearing did come after the 9.00 watershed, but (as far as we know) Ofcom has never formally rejected the ITC's 2002 advice that particular care should be taken with programmes which "appeal to children but start before the watershed" - which, with children's entertainers like Mika, and Sharon Osbourne off tea-time television on board, this would seem to fall into that category like a round peg into a well-lubricated round hole.
Not to mention that ITV had taken its strange step to censor the earlier outburst of bad language before nine o'clock; parents should take responsibility for their children's viewing but how are they supposed to know that ITV will send the bloke with the beeper home as soon as nine o'clock comes round?
We don't think this is a case where books should have been thrown at broadcasters, but we'd have thought that at least Ofcom could have managed a bit of a tut. Yes, the show has reputation for disarray - although not bad language - but simply because ITV tries to promote the show as a crazy, lawless place doesn't mean that it should be allowed to allow such sloppy and pointless coarseness without even the meekest protest from the regulator. That the unbridled swearing came from the host, rather than a guest, surely should make Ofcom a little uncomfortable? No?