Footballers' Wives swearing cleared but BBC falls foul

LONDON - According to Ofcom, the phrase 'Jesus f***king Christ' is unacceptable for broadcast, but 'Jesus shitting Christ' is OK, despite the latter receiving 11 complaints compared with just one complaint for the former.

Ofcom has ruled that the BBC is in breach of the code on standards for the broadcast of "Jesus fucking Christ" during the March 25 broadcast of 'Trouble at the Top' on BBC Two. The programme was about a chef starting a new restaurant, and the swearing was shown in a scene intended to reveal the extent of his anxiety and frustration.

One viewer complained about the phrase, saying that he found it extremely offensive. The BBC defended the broadcast, saying that it had warned viewers at the beginning of the show and that it went out after the watershed.

By contrast, ITV1's 'Footballers' Wives', broadcast the night before 'Trouble at the Top', has been cleared despite 11 complaints when the character Tanya exclaimed "Jesus shitting Christ!" after her face broke out in a rash.

The production company, Channel Television, explained that the strong phrase was needed to convey that Tanya, played by Zoe Lucker, was dismayed, but also to get across that she was amoral and bereft of any spiritual beliefs. In 'Footballers Wives' Tanya is a ruthless, cocaine-snorting, social climber who engineered her second husband's death while sleeping with the football team's star player.

Ofcom said that it recognised that some viewers do not find such language acceptable under any circumstances. However, it cleared the use in the ruling.

It said: "In view of the relatively mild swearword used, together with viewers' expectations given the general tone of the series, we believe that most of the audience would have considered the phrase acceptable in the context of this drama scheduled after the 9pm watershed."

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