(G)ay, caramba! Channel 4 censors The Simpsons

Broadcaster admits error over the editing of the word 'gay' at Sunday lunchtime

Is the word “gay” sufficiently offensive to cause viewers to choke on their Sunday lunch? Channel 4 appeared to think so after editing the word out of a weekend repeat of The Simpsons.

The broadcaster has admitted it made a mistake after deciding that a use of the word “gay”, in its homosexual context, was unsuitable for a Sunday lunchtime audience.

The line was cut from a 1994 episode of The Simpsons, called Homer Loves Flanders, which was aired at 12.55pm on Sunday.

Homer goes to an American Football match with Ned Flanders but at first is embarrassed to be seen with his god-fearing neighbour. The pair bond after Ned buys a mountain of food and introduces Homer to the star quarterback.

As they drive away, they pass workmates Lenny and Carl in the car park. Homer proudly yells out of the window: “I want everyone to know that this is Ned Flanders ... my friend!”

In the original episode, Lenny turns to Carl and says: “What'd he say?” Carl replies: “I dunno. Somethin’ about being gay.”

The line plays on the homosexual under-current to Lenny and Carl’s relationship, a long-running Simpsons joke.

However in the Sunday version, Carl’s line was edited out, and the episode abruptly cut to adverts after Lenny said: “What’d he say?”

Channel 4 said that Simpsons episodes broadcast before 6pm are checked by its compliance department for any unsuitable content. In this instance, the compliance checker had been overly-cautious.

A spokesman said: “We always carefully consider the context in which language is used in our programming. However in this instance the episode was edited in error as neither the word nor the context was unsuitable.”

Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, says there is no evidence to conclude that use of the word “gay” is “necessarily and automatically intended to be, or is, offensive.”

It can be offensive when broadcasters, such as Chris Moyles and Jeremy Clarkson, have employed the word in a context that “results in a negative portrayal of homosexual men and women.”

In 2006, Moyles was rapped over the knuckles for using the word “gay” as a synonym for “rubbish” on his Radio 1 Breakfast Show. But Ofcom also acknowledged that the Oxford English Dictionary now recognises a second usage of “gay” to mean “socially inappropriate, or disapproved of and lame”.

Broadcasters are told to restrict usage of “gay” in this context when children are likely to be watching, as it could contribute to bullying.

Last week John Key, the New Zealand Prime Minister, was criticised by gay rights groups for mocking a radio host’s red jacket, suggesting he was a weak golfer because his jacket’s colour was “gay”.

Mr Key told RadioSport presenter Jamie Mackay: “You’re munted mate. You’re never going to make it. You’ve got that gay red top on.”

Mr Key, who voted in favour of gay marriage, said “gay” was “just a slang term” used by young people. He said: “If someone was offended by it then I apologise but it’s not exactly like a term you don’t hear everywhere”.

Sir Ian McKellen, who played Gandalf in the New Zealand-filmed Lord of the Rings franchise, said Key “should watch his language.” The actor said: “I’m currently touring secondary schools in UK, attacking homophobia in the playground and discouraging kids from the careless use of 'gay' which might make their gay friends (and teachers) feel less about themselves.”

Rowan Atkinson is lobbying for the repeal of section 5 of the Public Order Act, which makes it an offence to use insulting words or behaviour and once resulted in the arrest of a student who called a police horse “gay”.

In 2006, Sam Brown was arrested for making homophobic remarks and spent the night in a cell after he suggested that a police horse was “gay”. The CPS decided that there was not enough evidence and it dropped the case.

In stark contrast to Channel 4’s act of “gay” self-censorship, Ofcom yesterday criticised the broadcaster for airing a dating show, Love Shaft, which featured contestants talking about “massive tits”, “slut” and “part-time slut”, in a morning slot when young children were likely to be watching.

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
music review
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Boy George performing with Culture Club at Heaven

musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

music
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

art
Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker