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Channel 4 and the sick show they call comedy

31 December 2012 18,779 views 13 Comments

By Keith Gladdis and Claire Ellicott Mail
Comedians guzzle wine and egg each other on to trade obscene jokes about the Queen, Philip and Susan Boyle
Big Fat Quiz of 2012 featured countless vile sexual jokes just after 9pm
• Most made by James Corden and Jack Whitehall who drank bottle of wine each during pre-recorded show
• Channel 4 accused of failing to learn from Sachsgate scandal
• Television watchdog Ofcom says it has received complaints
A primetime Channel 4 quiz in which drunken comedians made obscene jokes about the Queen has outraged viewers.


The Big Fat Quiz Of 2012, which featured countless vile sexual jokes, was broadcast on Sunday only seconds after the 9pm watershed.
The pre-recorded show, presented by controversial comedian Jimmy Carr, also featured puerile remarks about sprinter Usain Bolt, President Obama and singer Susan Boyle.
Crude: Big Fat Quiz of the Year featured guests including Richard Ayoade, Russell Howard, Jonathan Ross, Jimmy Carr, Jack Whitehall, James Cordon, Gaby Logan
Last night TV watchdog Ofcom confirmed it had already received complaints. Most of the crass humor came from Gavin And Stacey star James Corden, 34, and comedian Jack Whitehall, 24, who were seen to drink a bottle of wine each on screen.
They were egged on by Jonathan Ross – who lost his job with the BBC after making an abusive phone call to the veteran actor Andrew Sachs during a radio show.
Channel 4 last night stood accused of failing to learn from the Sachsgate scandal, which was also a pre-recorded broadcast.

Margaret Morrissey, founder of campaign group Parentsoutloud.com , said: ‘It is amazing this programme was ever broadcast. This was not live television, someone made the decision to allow this to go out at 9pm during the holidays when young children will still be up and watching television.
‘It’s as if broadcasters have learned nothing from the Sachsgate scandal. This is proof that we need a clean-up of television.’

Within minutes of the annual quiz show starting guests began to make infantile jokes about the Queen and the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
Marlborough-educated Whitehall said he ‘had a theory’ about why the Queen had stood up throughout the jubilee pageant on the Thames.
He then made a crude joke linking it to the fact that Prince Philip was taken ill with a bladder infection soon afterwards.
He justified his offensive remarks by saying: ‘I’m just saying what everyone’s thinking.’
Soon afterwards he said Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt could ‘rake it in’ by going to stud like the retired racehorse Frankel.
His vulgar language appeared to draw gasps from the audience, but the remarks were eagerly followed up with a disgusting comment by 52-year-old Ross.
Halfway through the two-hour show Corden took a bottle of red wine and two glasses from beneath his desk and poured himself and Whitehall a drink, then started eating pizza.
The pair were soon visibly drunk and Corden was slurring his words.
He then started to make crude comments about Britain’s Got Talent star Susan Boyle after he was asked what slogan was used to promote her album on Twitter. His answer was: ‘Subo loves it in the a***.’
He then laughed as he said: ‘This is where I do myself in and I forget we are recording this and this is going to be on TV’, before repeating: ‘She clearly loves it in the a***.’
Corden and Whitehall continued to get drunk and host Carr later pointed out that the pair had drunk a bottle of wine each. Afterwards Whitehall told his Twitter followers: ‘We got so drunk.’
Viewers took to Twitter and television forums to vent their dismay even as the programme was being broadcast.
Targets: The comics made crude jokes about gold medal sprinter Usain Bolt, left, and singer Susan Boyle, right
Bad taste: Comedian Jack Whitehall made rude comments about the Queen, left, and the recent illness of her husband Prince Philip, right
One wrote on the Digital Spy entertainment website: ‘Forgive me for not laughing at people being immature idiots. But how is that comedy? It’s just inane, immature stupidity. I haven’t laughed once.’
Another added: ‘Glad Jimmy is seeing the funny side of things – as I ain’t.’
A third wrote: ‘A lot of canned laughter overlaid over the (probably) barely laughing audience. It’s a chore watching this.’
As the programme approached its conclusion Corden and Whitehall made crass jokes about Mr Obama.
Asked what the President did in the Oval Office when he was pretending to work, they responded by writing down: ‘Put a condom on and had a posh w***.’
Fellow guests sports presenter Gabby Logan, 39, and actor Richard Ayoade, 35, looked increasingly awkward as the jokes continued.
On Twitter, viewers were commenting on how drunk Whitehall and Corden were. And on the Mumsnet website one user wrote: ‘Jack and James were really annoying me with their drunken childishness. When Jonathan Ross seems like the most grown-up person there you know it’s time to edit them out.’
Ofcom had received five complaints by last night, but that number could quickly grow – in Sachsgate, an initial two complaints rose to nearly 45,000.


Former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe said: ‘Nothing Jimmy Carr does surprises me. This programme is in extremely poor taste and I’m amazed it was ever broadcast.
‘Most people would consider it to be in very bad taste to poke fun at someone in their eighties who’s served the country devotedly for 60 years.’

Mrs Morrissey of Parentsoutloud.com added: ‘No doubt there’ll be a storm of outrage and then the comedians will turn around and be all contrite. ‘But they could have avoided offending people and corrupting young minds. Even if their parents stop them, children can still watch it on their iPads and iPhones. The nation’s television now serves the lowest common denominator.’

A spokesman for Susan Boyle would not comment, but a source close to the singer said: ‘Their comments were inappropriate.’
A spokesman for Corden said: ‘James would never want to offend anyone and is sorry if his comments have been taken out of the context they were made in.’
A Channel 4 spokesman said: ‘Big Fat Quiz Of The Year is a well-established comedic and satirical review of the year’s events with well-known guests and is broadcast after the watershed with appropriate warnings.’
Channel 4 has often been at the centre of controversy. In 2007 tens of thousands complained that Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty was the victim of racist bullying on Celebrity Big brother.
Viewers also protested about a ‘dramatised documentary’ about Prince Harry in 2010 in which an actor playing the prince was shown being subjected to a mock execution in Afghanistan.
Also in 2010 the broadcaster showed comedian Frankie Boyle making ‘highly offensive’ jokes about the disabled son of model Katie Price.

Read more:  Story on the Daily Mail

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  • Bandit1200 said:

    This program was after the 9 pm watershed. As a parent of Twins I would not tune in to something like this but would record it and watch it, although in most cases my children would be in bed by then anyway. It is the PARENTS job to ensure that their children do not watch this sort of thing, not the TV stations job to censore everything. If you don’t like it or want your kids to watch it change the channel or switch the TV off!

  • Margaret (author) said:

    So this makes it alright then? just remeber their friends parents may not have controls. Also why should I and thousands of other have to switch off TV after paying BBC for a license because of those who choose to live by the lowest standards. If we all did that the industry would be in deep trouble those who make TV’s ,sell them and those like the Comedians who make vast sums of money for so called entertainment. I am not in a position to afford an Apple computer or Smart phone or any of the products you are trying to advertise.

    Thank you for your views appreciate you taking the time.

  • Margaret (author) said:

    It was actually at 9pm and whilst I agree with you totally in an ideal world yes I personally would switch off life is not so simple. Given the red light these things become the norm after 25 years of working with parents and PTA’s experience shows there are those parents who do allow children freedom of the media and they then discus with your children , they now have the ability to record etc and share so best not to broadcast it surely.

  • Mr. W said:

    “Just remeber their friends parents may not have controls. Also why should I and thousands of other have to switch off TV after paying BBC for a license because of those who choose to live by the lowest standards.”

    No offence, but I really suggest you think before you speak…I for one feel like you’ve basically said I’m living by the lowest standards and that just sounds like snobbery to me!

    Another question is why should I, and thousands of others, have to lose a comical programme because you don’t want to watch it?
    But to cut us both short; neither of us actually pay towards C4. You would be perfectly entitled to complain about this sort of programme on the BBC, since you do pay towards that.

    My main issue with what you have to say here is that you’re wavering the parents responsibility in this.
    These kids don’t work and earn their own tablets or smartphones (and if they do, then I believe they should be perfectly entitled to watch what they want on it), thus it’s the parents responsibility to ensure the child is not watching the programme.
    As mentioned by Dave; parental controls HAVE been provided on the many devices out there and if you’ve chosen to ignore/not learn about them, than that’s your failing as a parent.

    As for turning the TV off; nobody is asking you to do that. As I’m sure you’re aware, we’ve just completed the digital switch over and thus we have a wealth of channels available to us (most TVs have freeview built-in now, after all). If something is on that you don’t like; switch over. That’s what I do with Eastenders or Corrie: I don’t sit through it and complain after.

    The watershed has been in place for years; I’m surprised that you fail to see that once it has passed, adult content is allowed to be broadcast. I do understand that it was JUST as the watershed passed which seems to be one of the issues here.
    But if you’re under the (frankly) idiotic assumption that the watershed should be moved during School holidays, then you’re waging a needless battle against thousands who own a TV and find content after the watershed to be more entertaining (this includes Dramas with violence, for example). It’s why I fail to understand why “The nation’s television now serves the lowest common denominator”, when it’s serving this type of programme in the evening, from 9 onwards…You basically have from 5:30 until 20:59 that caters for everybody, and then a small period at night for the more mature among us.
    I’m sure you’ll agree that 11pm is a reasonable ‘bed time’ for a working adult, thus by that I get 2 hours to watch content tailored to me. It hardly feels like the nation’s television is serving the lowest common denominator, in fact, it feels like to me that just because it hasn’t served you, there’s some animosity towards it.
    A quick look at the C4 site explains that they have a “remit to be innovative, experimental and distinctive”. I’d say they intend to serve the nation with different content; some safe for all ages, some for the mature audience…we have a pretty wide audience, after all!
    I’d like to remind you that all of the broadcasters have a responsibility and requirement to create different content for every type of viewer; you didn’t like this because, simply, it wasn’t created for you. Television would be a boring thing indeed if they only made one type of show, correct?

    I realise I’m being brash here, but I am absolutely stunned that your opinion appears to be that of laying responsibility on the broadcaster, despite the efforts made and system in place to appease already.

    I’d like to finish by also mentioning the Sachsgate scandal and the comparisons made. Again, you simply must remember that Sachsgate was a personal attack; not a comical/satirical review of the year. It was also through the BBC i.e. our funding and the broadcast time played a big role.
    The Big Fat Quiz has been an annual show which has had the same format every time and thus I find it frustrating that issues are with this one and not the rest.
    It received 5 complaints according to the article; there would be no reason for more complaints if it weren’t for articles like this…though coming from the Mail, who libelled Frankie Boyle a little while back, it just seems like they want to stir up trouble needlessly in my opinion.

    Hope you do take on board my opinions here, as I have yours!

  • Margaret (author) said:

    Thank you for your opinion

  • Adam said:

    Margaret Morrissey, founder of campaign group Parentsoutloud.com , said: ‘It is amazing this programme was ever broadcast. This was not live television, someone made the decision to allow this to go out at 9pm during the holidays when young children will still be up and watching television.’

    Regardless of it being during academic holidays, the broadcast was still AFTER WATERSHED. If children are awake, and allowed to watch programs that have advanced warnings about content and language, then surely the parents are at fault – if said parents wish to protect their children from such programming, then it is the responsibility of the adult to find appropriate watching for the family.

    This is a clear example of this organisation blowing a non-story out of proportion purely for the chance of publicity.

  • margaret morrissey said:

    This was programme broadcast at 9 pm. No doubt all parents who could did not allow their children to view. Unlike you I do not condemn parents who struggle in an often sorry society to give their children a good decent up bringing . Parentsoutloud did not raise the story we were asked for a comment and as we live in a democracy we gave one based on the views of people who are parents and care for their and other children’s future. Parentsoutloud is a none profit making organisation in fact it costs to run it we have no income from anyone Sir and seek none. I still find it an unnecessary programme which did none of the people involved any credit and in my opinion catered for the lowest of the low. As you have made your comments I make no apologies for giving you mine.

  • Adam said:

    I apologise for the way in which my comments were interpreted, and having read them back, can see how they were misinterpreted. By ‘this organisation’ I meant the Daily Mail, from which this article was taken. They have an ever-growing reputation for taking minor stories and fear-mongering in order to boost sales.

    I am happy you have replied in the manner with which you have, as it shows the undoubtable passion you have for the work that the companies carry out.

    However, I do still stand by my earlier comments with regards to the watershed.

  • Margaret (author) said:

    Thank you Adam I do appreciate what you have said , you do have a point I respect that.

  • Catherine said:

    I’m in Australia and I’m the mother of a 10 yo boy who’s absolutely passionate about soccer. He started watching Youtube soccer videos about 18 months ago and improved his skills over the summer off-season just by studying top players and their moves. By the middle of this year however he had discovered, amongst other things, KSIOlajideBT and his engaging but utterly profane FIFA12 commentaries – right around the same time he started encountering profane and vicious sexualised bullying in the playground at school. This was coming from a few kids who were Xbox savvy. My son’s response was to seek out ever more profane people to play with on Xbox in an attempt to master the ‘trash-talk’. I didn’t understand what was happening and put his aggression and frustration down to the fact that our modem often dropped out leaving him with unfinished games. So when he insistently asked for a new modem at around the same time we started to see a counsellor to help with limiting his Xbox time, I agreed in the interests of ensuring at least he would get full games in his now limited time. I set up the modem under pressure, focussing on providing a good connection for the Xbox, and on the evenings when that was suspended, he watched his videos instead. Instead of his behaviour improving however, it rapidly deteriorated to the point where the School called me about his aggression in class.

    What do you think had happened? Here he was trying to deal with all this appalling language, on his own because – as KSI says “A man has to stand his ground.” But the poor kid couldn’t understand the language he was copping every day, so he came home and started Googling it. The new modem didn’t have the same levels of parental controls on it as the old one, which must have been set so that it still had a level of residual protection even when Net Nanny was turned off – which I’d often done for him because otherwise, it would block innocuous videos that he was allowed to watch, like the Yogscast’s Minecraft videos. On the night of the interview at school, I checked his internet history and he’d been sitting there for 3 weeks clicking on page after page of pornography. Not just pornography either according to any understanding I’ve previously had of it, but the most vile material I’ve ever seen in my life. It was horrendous. The ensuing weeks saw one very disturbed little boy slowly come to understand that he’d been exposed to things no-one should ever have to countenance. He has settled down now, and I hope he will be okay. But there is no doubt it will leave a mark on him.

    The vile profanity that has invaded popular culture is something I just don’t understand and it really frightens me. Humour of the kind complained about here on the BBC is damaging to society, because it sets the tone for the humour that is passed on to teenagers, who in turn pass it on to the younger kids. This is happening in the context of an explosion of internet pornography which has occurred in the past 5 years, and means increasingly younger boys are seeing images which are produced for their shock value, rather than anything associated with traditional eroticism. The obsession with anal sex and other forms of deviance, and the humour which has sprung up around such preoccupations, is causing widespread damage to the sexuality of young men. There are reports of boys as young as 15 and 16 presenting to pyschologists with erectile dysfunction – and little wonder, given how horrible a lot of this stuff is.

    So I can’t do other than to encourage people who similarly think humour like this has gone too far to speak out in the attempt to reinstate some values into national broadcasting. It’s as if we’ve lost our moral lodestone altogether as far as sexuality is concerned. The pornographers, child abusers and rapists are winning the day when this is what passes for humour on such a venerable institution as the BBC.

  • Margaret (author) said:

    Thank you so much for sharing your sons terrible experience we hope he is okay now. There has been some very rude and disturing comments sent to us which have been deleted but it has caused us much concern. It helps to know we are not the sick monsters we have been called by some who believe it is parents fault if children hear these things and that the TV and other media should be allowed to say what they wish on air.

  • Chris said:

    With respect, I’d argue that far more people actually enjoyed the program than did’t. Its just the silent majority that did don’t feel inclined to phone in and say so, they just switch over to the next show, or go to bed, or whatever. (Also this was not on the BBC, it was on C4, which is not not entirely licence payer funded, hence the adverts). Channel 4, much like most main channels, caters for many tastes, from news, food, politics, drama and comedy, and while some of the jokes on this particular show were perhaps not all that funny and a bit crude, I would argue that as a whole it does a fairly good job as a network, pushing boundaries which after all is what comedy and entertainment needs to do to stay relevent. Its why in the past C4 has given us ground breaking shows such as award winning “Shameless”, “Queer as Folk”, countlessly good political dramas and reports, and countless classic stand up shows from the likes of Bill Hicks, Jimmy Carr, Frankie Boyle, Jerry Seinfeild, Billy Colloiny, Richard Piror to name but a few. In a modern society you all have the right to be offended, but please don’t assume that because you don’t like what your hearing, you have the right to stop me hearing it too. And if your still concerned that your Child is hearing it, then change the channel, or you could let the child make his own mind up, after all if their old enough to get it, then their old enough to make his own mind up, and if their not, their probably going to get board watching the show anyway.

    Happy New Year to All

    Chris Lynch (Father of 2)

  • Tim said:

    Ha, so my comment was deleted because I questioned the author’s intentions? Wow, you really do make me sick. At the end of the day Jack Whitehall and Jimmy Carr will be fine, millions still love them and will pay to see them. Your just nagging old hens who need to get a grip on reality and culture in 2013…silly geese!

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