Britain's Got Talent cleared of breaching rules over Susan Boyle

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The Independent Online

Britain's Got Talent has been cleared of breaching broadcasting rules after hundreds of viewers complained about contestants including Susan Boyle and Hollie Steele appearing upset during the live final stages of this year's series.

Ofcom received more than 400 complaints from viewers about the final stages which aired in May.

Incidents included 10-year-old Steele breaking down after forgetting the words to Edelweiss and being given another chance to sing again.

At the end of the live final Boyle appeared shaken when she came second to Diversity.

Natalie Okri, also 10, also appeared upset when she did not make it through to the final and 12-year-old dancer Aidan Davis also looked unhappy when told by judge Simon Cowell that his performance had not been as good as it had been the previous evening.

But Ofcom said its biggest number of complaints - 259 out of 409 - was from viewers who thought that Steele should not have been given a second chance.

The majority of the rest of the complaints concerned the welfare of the younger contestants.

Those in charge of compliance for the ITV1 show said BGT producers received 50,000 applications from children - over 75% of the total applications made to appear on the 2009 programme.

They said due care was taken of the welfare of child participants and the duty of care continued after they left the programme.

They added that the decision to give Steele a second chance was taken live and made very quickly. Cowell was also said to have spoken to Davis to ensure he knew how much he admired his talent.

Ofcom found the show did not breach broadcasting rules.

It said: "Ofcom has not found any evidence to suggest that any of the children involved in the programme had anything other than a positive overall experience through their involvement, and notes in particular that the children who complainants were particularly concerned about went on to participate successfully in the BGT tour."

Regarding complaints that Steele was allowed a second chance, Ofcom noted the terms and rules of the competition made it clear that rules could be changed at producers' discretion - and all the performers agreed to these rules.

Ofcom received 53 complaints regarding the alleged exploitation of Boyle, who was considered by some to be too vulnerable to put in a talent contest.

But the regulator said its remit did not extend to protecting the welfare and dignity of those aged 18 and over who take part in programmes unless the individual or someone acting for them directly makes a formal complaint about alleged unfair or unjust treatment - and no such complaint was made.

The watchdog also said it took into account that it was a talent contest and disappointment to all but the winner was pretty much "inevitable".

It found Boyle did not appear humiliated or particularly distressed.

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