Brass Eye wins over watchdog

The watchdog for television standards has gone out of its way to praise the controversial Channel 4 satire Brass Eye despite upholding complaints from two Tory MPs who were fooled into appearing on the show to criticise a fictitious drug called "cake".

The Independent Television Commission has upheld complaints from David Amess, MP for Southend West, and Sir Graham Bright, MP for Luton South, who appeared on the show in February talking to the show's creator Chris Morris about the dangers of "cake".

But the ITC will take no action against the channel and has taken the highly unusual step of praising the programme as "amusing and innovative".

Mr Amess, who put down a question about "cake" in the Commons, complained to the ITC that he had been "set up".

Mr Amess appeared on the show wearing the T-shirt of a fictitious anti- drugs organisation known as F.U.K.D & B.O.M.B.D. He also explained that a three-second burst of music lasted four hours in the minds of drug users, or as he was persuaded to call them, "custard gannets". Sir Graham complained that the programme sought to make a laughing stock of the subject of drug taking.

The ITC had to uphold their complaints because a section of its programme code states that contributors must be made aware of the format and purpose of programmes.

But its latest complaints report underlined its approval of the show: "The Commission had no criticism of the overall programme concept. It acknowledged that risks were attached to making innovative programmes and felt that Channel 4 should not be discouraged for that reason from seeking to make such programmes. It proposed to take no further action against Channel 4."

The ITC said it was more concerned about the complaints of 17 viewers who objected to an opening sequence in an edition satirising media coverage of sex which featured Morris having sex with a model.

The ITC decided not to act after "appropriate action" had been taken against Morris. Channel 4 refuses to say what that was but Morris is unlikely to be working for the channel in the foreseeable future.

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