Ever wondered what the most complained-about TV shows on British television are? We’ve got all the answers.
Telecoms regulator Ofcom has provided Trusted Reviews with figures that reveal which television items have received the most complaints from viewers over the past year.
The figures, obtained through a Freedom Of Information Act request, detail a range of controversial broadcast items that sparked viewer fury across the UK.
From Britain’s Got Talent to Benidorm, British audiences found reason for outrage across a range of genres on a number of channels, including BBC 1, ITV, Channel 4, and even Sky News.
Here’s the full list, counting down to the most complained-about item between August 11, 2016 and August 10, 2017. We should note that Ofcom’s consideration of Press Preview on 20 June 2017 is still in progress, and will be published in due course – so we weren’t able to include relevant figures from that review.
10. Benidorm (ITV) – 137 complaints
On May 3, 2017, ITV aired an episode of Benidorm that saw actress Sherri Hewson’s character describe a man with a cleft lip as having “a voice like a 13-year-old girl and a face like a dropped pie”.
Ofcom received 137 complaints over the comment, saying that viewers bemoaned a “perceived derogatory reference to a person with a cleft lip”.
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9. Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls (Channel 4) – 153 complaints
Channel 4 came under fire over an episode of reality adventure series Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls that aired on October 9, 2016.
Ofcom received 153 complaints about animal welfare after the episode depicted Made In Chelsea star Ollie Locke stabbing a caiman crocodile to death. Locke’s MiC co-star Lucy Watson criticised him over the televised slaughter:
8. Good Morning Britain (ITV) – 181 complaints
ITV’s hit morning show Good Morning Britain came under fire on June 20, 2017 after airing a live interview with Tommy Robinson, a far-right political activist and former leader of the controversial English Defence League.
People who disapproved of the interview largely disagreed with Robinson being given a platform on a daytime television show, considering his contentious political beliefs.
Regulator Ofcom has received 181 complaints to date as a result of the broadcast.
7. Sky News (Sky News) – 190 complaints
On August 7, 2016, Sky News included a news item that featured journalist Stuart Ramsay reporting from Western Romania about people who were allegedly engaged in the illegal sale of firearms.
Ofcom received over 190 complaints, which many suggesting that elements of the item were “staged or faked”, with reports that Sky had paid people who appeared in the item, and that interviewees were given pre-determined answers to journalist questions.
After a lengthy investigation, the regulator eventually cleared Sky of any wrongdoing in February this year, confirming that Sky reported the item with “due accuracy” and said that “due impartiality was preserved”.
6. Emmerdale (ITV) – 275 complaints
ITV was lambasted by viewers yet again on March 6, 2017, after an episode of Emmerdale sparked anger among viewers.
The episode depicted character Aaron Dingle suffering a violent beating in a prison cell where his own father had killed himself.
Ofcom received 275 complaints over the episode, with the regulator saying viewers were unhappy with the “violence / intimidation towards Aaron in prison”.
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5. Coronation Street (ITV) – 303 complaints
An episode of Coronation Street stirred up controversy on September 5, 2016, after it aired a scene where two male characters, Billy and Todd, shared a kiss.
Ofcom received 303 complaints over the scene, with viewers questioning whether it was appropriate to air content with “homosexual themes”. Many news outlets reported that social media response was largely positive, however, suggesting Ofcom complainants aren’t necessarily representative.
4. Comic Relief (BBC 1) – 340 complaints
This year’s Comic Relief ended up being very controversial thanks to a number of awkward moments, including instances of crude language and sexual innuendo.
Ofcom received 340 complaints over the episode in total.
3. Emmerdale (ITV) – 448 complaints
On September 26, 2016, an episode of Emmerdale depicted characters Charity Dingle and Ross Barton plotting to steal a dog and ransom it back to its owner. The plan to pinch the Rottweiler failed in the end, but viewers complained that it could inspire copycat crimes in real life.
The dognapping incident led to 448 complaints being sent to regulator Ofcom.
2. Coronation Street (ITV) – 473 complaints
An episode of Coronation Street aired by ITV on August 29, 2016 was blasted by viewers over an alleged racially insensitive remark made by character Eva Price.
The character said “I have more roots than Kunta Kinte”, referencing Kunta Kinte, a character in a novel and TV series about slavery called Roots: The Saga of an American Family.
Ofcom received 473 complaints relating to “racial offence” over the remark. Coronation Street’s producers eventually apologised following viewer criticism.
1. Britain’s Got Talent (ITV) – 663 complaints
By far the most complained-about television programme in the past year was the June 1, 2017 transmission of Britain’s Got Talent, which saw Ofcom receive an incredible 663 complaints.
Some viewers were unhappy with the dress worn by show host Amanda Holden, with those complaining suggesting it was too low-cut for evening television. The event sparked plenty of conversation about the sexualisation of women’s bodies and gender equality – probably the most intellectual debate ever sparked by an episode of BGT.
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