Hollyoaks' pre-watershed train death scene breached rules - Ofcom

 

Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks broke the rules when it broadcast a “violent and shocking” scene where a main character was killed by a speeding train, the media watchdog has found.

Ofcom issued a stern warning to broadcasters about airing violence before the watershed and announced that it will commission research into viewers' attitudes towards on-screen violence.

Hollyoaks was found to have breached programme rules in an episode broadcast at 6.30pm on 19 March 2013.

The episode showed former drug dealer Brendan Brady (played by Emmett J Scanlan) pushing arch nemesis undercover policeman Simon Walker (Neil Newbon) into the path of a train, resulting in his death.

Walker was shown screaming as he fell backwards on to the railway track before the camera cut away to show the train passing at high speed.

Channel 4 said in its defence that it had taken a number of measure to ensure the scene complied with Ofcom’s rules.

The scene marked the culmination of a long-running revenge storyline and Channel 4 said "there was an expectation from viewers that there would be a dramatic end to such a complex tense relationship".

But Ofcom today issued a statement to "remind television broadcasters of the need to ensure that all material broadcast pre-watershed which features violent scenes is appropriately limited".

The TV watchdog plans to assess whether the amount of violence on British TV in everything from documentaries to dramas has increased over the decades, looking specifically at shows scheduled before and immediately after the 9pm watershed.

"Broadcasters should consider whether individual acts of violence within a programme are suitable, as well as where the overall tone is malevolent, menacing and threatening, that this also remains suitably limited," it said.

Channel 4 showed no images of Walker being hit by the train during the minute-and-a-half-long sequence. But build-up included a fight showing several blows to the face and stomach, Brendan's head being pushed through railings and Walker with bloody lips and blood running from his nose.

Channel 4 said that the storyline had run for around a year and that viewers were notified that a dramatic episode would be broadcast. It said that the fight scene only lasted around a minute, was at the end of the episode and carefully edited.

Ofcom said that it accepted that violence was "a part of life and integral to many dramas, including those broadcast pre-watershed."

But it said that the pre-programme information was too vague and would "not have prepared the significant number of younger viewers in the audience, or their parents, adequately for the violent, intense and shocking scenes which followed."

It said: "This scene was both violent and shocking and had the potential to distress younger viewers as well as raise concerns about the level of violence amongst parents watching with their children regardless of the editorial context presented or the signposting provided. For all these reasons Ofcom considered that it was unsuitable for children."

It said that research, carried out in 2010, showed that parents' biggest concerns about pre-watershed content was violence, sexually explicit content and offensive language. Soaps were the programmes which caused most concern.

Channel 4 argued that Hollyoaks, which regularly deals with storylines about sexual abuse, domestic violence and drugs, was aimed at a teenage audience.

But Ofcom said figures showed that 15 per cent of the audience of the train death episode were children aged four to 15 and 10 per cent were aged four to nine.

The watchdog "concluded that cumulatively the violent content in this sequence exceeded viewers' expectations for a drama transmitted long before the watershed when young children were available to view and in this case were watching in large numbers".

Tony Close, Ofcom’s director of content standards, said: "Broadcasters have a duty to protect children from violent material. The rules in this area are very clear, making it unacceptable for any broadcaster to include scenes of violence that are unsuitable for children before the watershed.

"The protection of under-18s from potentially harmful content is a key area of concern for Ofcom. As such we have commissioned new research into viewers' attitudes to violence on television.

"This will further inform us about the level of concern about violence on television - and will contribute to our ongoing work on the enforcement of the 9pm watershed."

Additional reporting from PA

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
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.

    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
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?