EXCLUSIVE The most controversial programmes of 2023 revealed: How Jeremy Vine’s junior doctors row, Ant Payne’s earthquake joke and adults stripping in front of children for Naked Education helped land them in Ofcom’s top 20 most complained about shows
- Jeremy Vine is the most complained about broadcaster on commercial TV
- One episode of his Channel 5 programme elicted some 2,200 complaints
These are the 20 most complained about broadcasts so far this year, according to data from communications regulator Ofcom.
Jeremy Vine’s controversial comments about junior doctors on his March 13 Channel 5 show discussing the pay dispute elicited some 2,200 complaints – the highest number of any broadcast so far in 2023.
Members of the public can complain to the regulator if they feel a programme has breached the broadcasting code. Ofcom considers each of the complaints before deciding whether the various rules and regulations have been broken.
The regulator does not provide information on shows which have received fewer than 50 complaints per episode.
Ofcom does not handle complaints made about the BBC, which are dealt with by the corporation’s in-house framework.
Since January 1, between ITV1 and ITV2, the commercial broadcaster has received 3,297 complaints, while Channel 5 has 2,250 for the single Jeremy Vine show. Channel Four has a combined total of 1,715 – including Naked Education and Scared of the Dark.
Most of ITV’s complaints have been for Love Island, though Britain’s Got Talent, Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and the broadcaster’s Grand National coverage have all faced angry viewer reactions.
Captial FM DJ Ant Payne received more than 1,000 complaints following an ill-timed joke about going on holiday to Turkey in the days after the devastating earthquake which hit the region.
These are the most complained about shows on commercial broadcasters so far during 2023. Ofcom does not record shows that receive fewer than 50 complaints an episode
Jeremy Vine, pictured, is the most complained man on British TV so far this year, following comments he made about junior doctors and their pay dispute with the government
Payne received 1,430 complaints for the single episode show while Channel 4’s Naked Education has been subject to a string of complaints since the series started.
So far, 1,413 people have lodged complaints with the regulator.
The series, hosted by Anna Richardson, brings people from across Britain together to discuss their bodies, addressing topics including body dysmorphia, cosmetic surgery and disabilities.
Writing in the Spectator, the co-founder of Thoughtful Therapists James Esses hit out at the ‘utter inconsistency’ in the show’s message.
Naked Education has also been the subject of complaints with viewers objecting to the show’s content
Britain’s Got Talent, featuring Ant & Dec has received fewer complaints than Love Island
He said: ‘Unfortunately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the show, which is aimed at children, has already shown its inconsistent ideology.
‘Entire segments are dedicated to individuals who seemingly did everything they could to change their bodies. The show then portrays them as the epitome of self-acceptance.’
He added: ‘Teaching young people that the answer to accepting oneself is to fundamentally change oneself through irreversible surgery is both utterly inconsistent and dangerously disingenuous.’
Channel 4 has defended the controversial show. A spokesperson said: ‘Naked Education is a balanced body-positive programme that aims to spark conversations and normalise all body types, champion people’s differences and break down the stereotypes that huge numbers of people are exposed to on social media.
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‘All those who took part did so with appropriate consent and background checks, and received support throughout and after filming.
‘A recent episode featured a ground-breaking exchange between two trans men. Channel 4 is proud to give a platform to marginalised voices, and this thought-provoking discussion covered a wide range of topics including gender dysphoria, coming out, gender affirming surgery and being a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
‘We are immensely thankful to our two contributors for the bravery they have both shown in sharing their stories – we hope audiences find it informative and enlightening.’
Last year, Love Island received more than 5,000 complaints from viewers which prompted ITV2 to change the guidance and offer social media advice to participants.
Animal rights activists complained about ITV’s coverage of the Aintree Grand National festival, claiming the pundits were biased against to campaigners attempting to disrupt the racing.
ITV´s Grand National coverage had 700 complaints over response to protests
More than 100 people were arrested after activists from campaign group Animal Rising attempted to scale fences around Aintree Racecourse, near Liverpool.
ITV Racing Live At The Randox Grand National Festival 2023 covered the event on Saturday April 15, which was shown from 2pm to 6.15pm on ITV1.
The programme was reported to have received 653 complaints, according to a release by Ofcom on Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for Ofcom said: ‘The majority of complaints alleged bias by the commentators in response to animal rights groups’ protesting at the event.
‘These are additional complaints to those reported last week, and the cumulative total on this issue is 746.’
ITV Racing’s Ed Chamberlin said he ‘disagreed’ with the protesters after he commentated on the event which saw protesters climb fences.
Chamberlin, who said he was speaking as a fan not as a broadcaster, told The News Agents podcast: ‘It got very difficult…it was difficult to find the words, the right words, to describe it, you know emotions were running high and it was very unfortunate the way it played out.’
He added that the event went from a ‘celebration’ to making people feel ‘frustration’ and ‘on edge’.
Animal Rights activists complained about ITV’s coverage of the disruption to the racing festival at Aintree earlier this month
‘I found that uncomfortable to watch,’ he added.
The three-day event also saw the death of three horses, Hill Sixteen, Dark Raven and Envoye Special, along with a delayed start following the protests.
Chamberlin also wrote in Sporting Life that the sport had seen a reduction of ‘fatal injuries by 33 per cent over the last 20 years’.
He added: ‘However, I also believe, we in racing need to listen, understand and engage.
‘Times have changed, attitudes have changed and the social license has changed.’
Meanwhile, Channel’s 4 reality TV programme Scared Of The Dark saw 302 complaints ‘about the welfare of a rabbit’, according to Ofcom.
The series which saw celebrities such as former professional boxer Chris Eubank, Gogglebox star Scarlett Moffatt and former England footballer Paul Gascoigne live in darkness had one moment when the contestants had to put their hands in a box.
Actress Donna Preston, former professional boxer Nicola Adams, Eubank and singer Max George were among the celebrities who were told to touch the container which contained a rabbit, hands and sausage.
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