Why Glee's new hit is lining the pockets of Gary Glitter

Disgraced star owns rights to song popularised by Gwyneth Paltrow
  • @adamsherwin10

It is a typically risqué scene from Glee as substitute teacher Holly Holliday, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, leads her sex education class through a writhing performance of "Do You Wanna Touch Me? (Oh Yeah)".

Now children's charities have expressed concern that one of the song's co-writers, the convicted sex offender Gary Glitter, is set to benefit from the unlikely, inadvertent endorsement in the hit US show, which airs in Britain on E4.

Glitter, 66, who served three years in a Vietnam prison for sexually assaulting two girls aged 10 and 11, could receive hundreds of thousands of pounds in royalties from the song.

"Do You Wanna Touch Me" was a 1973 number two hit for Glitter. The new version was screened this week in the United States and is now available as an iTunes download. Glitter will receive publishing royalties from sales of the single as well as his song's airing in the episode, which is titled "Sexy".

Inclusion on the Glee soundtrack has given fading rockers a shock return to the big time. Journey made an estimated $1m after the show turned their anthem "Don't Stop Believin'" into an international hit. Glee has sold 21 million song downloads and spawned 100 US chart singles inside two years.

The use of Glitter's song in the scene (lyrics – "Do you wanna touch me there? Yeah... Right or wrong, don't it turn you on?") could prove an embarrassment for series producers Fox, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

Claude Knights, director of children's charity Kidscape, said: "It is regrettable that the producers did not consider the implication of using such a track in the context of a sex education class. The fact that this song is linked to Gary Glitter, and the words themselves, make it wholly inappropriate."

Ms Knights questioned whether Glitter, as a convicted sex offender, should be allowed to earn royalties from the song and its promotion through Glee.

Channel 4, due to screen the episode next month, will review the content and consider whether the scene should be cut.

The Glee producers based Paltrow's version on a 1982 cover of the song by Joan Jett and may not have been aware of Glitter's involvement. Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, co-wrote the song with record producer Mike Leander, who died in 1996.

The singer earned £100,000 in royalties when Hewlett-Packard used Jett's version of his song in a television advertising campaign. The computer firm dropped the advert after pressure from US child protection organisations.

Glitter was deported back to Britain in 2008. Previously convicted in the UK in 1999 for possessing child porn images on his computer, he was ordered to sign on to the sex offenders' register.