BBC bans its own 'derogatory' jokes

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The Independent Online

BBC stars will not be allowed to make "unduly humiliating or derogatory remarks" to entertain audiences under new guidelines published yesterday.

The reforms, created after a review commissioned by the BBC Trust, come after the furore provoked by the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand scandal, when the pair left rude messages on the answering machine of the Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs.

The changes are aimed at protecting people from "intrusive, aggressive or derogatory remarks for the purposes of entertainment". The guidelines state: "This does not mean preventing comedy or jokes about people in the public eye, but simply that such comments and their tone are proportionate to their target."

Under the new guidelines, the BBC will also have to "take account of the cumulative effect of repeated mentions of brands or products". This follows complaints about the BBC's promotion of a U2 album last year, which critics said had given the band "the sort of publicity money can't buy".