Ofcom admonishes ITV for talent show stunt displays

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The Independent Online

ITV has been criticised by the broadcasting watchdog for failing to protect children from a show that saw contestants enter spinning washing machines, eat glass and turn themselves into a human dartboard.

The World's Got Talent, a spin-off from Britain's Got Talent, was broadcast on ITV1 before the 7pm watershed in April, and at the same time two months later on ITV2. Viewers complained that children watching the show might emulate the activities of the performers from around the world.

As well as featuring a man who climbed into a giant washing machine and rotated inside as it was operated, the programme showed a performer setting himself on fire.

Channel Television, the programme's maker, said the show was broadcast as a prelude to the next series of Britain's Got Talent. It defended the footage, saying it was introduced with guidance stating: "Are they all a bit crazy? Definitely. Do not try this at home!" Another warning said: "Do not, I repeat, do not try this at home under any circumstances."

It said very young children were likely to be in bed at 7pm. But audience figures for the original broadcast on ITV1 showed that children made up 13 per cent of the total audience share, with 6 per cent under the age of nine.

Ofcom said it did not believe repeated warnings would be enough "necessarily to provide sufficient protection from harm", adding that The World's Got Talent was shown at a "time when younger children are often allowed to stay up later than usual" and "appealed to family audiences familiar with Britain's Got Talent".

It said that the broadcaster, "despite providing verbal warnings... failed to offer adequate protection to child viewers in this specific instance".