Homophobic? Moi? Chris Moyles censured by Ofcom for mocking Will Young's sexuality
Tuesday 24 March 2009
Chris Moyles is famed not so much for failing the "cornflakes test" – the media benchmark by which bad-taste stories and remarks are tested for offence – as for spitting out the milk and smashing the breakfast bowl against the studio wall.
The DJ's no-holds-barred irreverence, which has earned him BBC Radio 1's largest pay packet, 7.3 million listeners and three Sony Radio Awards, led to yet another censuring from the broadcasting watchdog yesterday.
Moyles "promoted and condoned certain negative stereotypes based on sexual orientation" when he mocked the gay singer Will Young in a high-pitched, effeminate voice, Ofcom ruled.
"Hostile" and "pejorative" were the words chosen by the regulator in its judgment, adding: "The potential to cause considerable offence."
Moyles, reportedly paid a £603,000 salary for his breakfast show, denies he was homophobic. The BBC meanwhile claimed that Young was not being ridiculed on the basis of his sexuality.
"It's my birthday today, gonna wear my new dress tonight. And I smell nice. I've had a shower and I've shaved my legs," sang Moyles, falsetto, to the tune of Young's song "Evergreen", on 20 January. "Going out later, might go to Nob-oooh for dinner."
In his rendition of "Leave Right Now", Moyles sang: "Oooh Will Young here, mmmm. I'm here, it's Will's birthday and as the years go by I get more very gay. When you saw me years ago you didn't know, but now I'm the gayest fella you probably know. Mmm I like to wear a silly hat, I get camper by the hour, oh would you look at the muck in here. I'm Will Young and I'm gay."
Eight people complained that Moyles was offensive and derogatory towards the gay community. Ofcom was worried Moyles's broadcast "may have the potential to encourage listeners, especially children, to discriminate against others because of their perceived sexual orientation". It said: "Such material runs the risk of being imitated by children, for instance in the playground."
The 35-year-old presenter has been repeatedly censured by Ofcom and carpeted by bosses for his on-air indiscretions. But claims that he will be burnt in a rumoured Radio 1 "bonfire of the disc jockeys" – a purge of grey-haired staff from the youth station's studios – were wide of the mark, an insider said.
Radio 1 has a remit to target an audience aged 15 to 29, and executives are keen to promote the likes of chart-show host Reggie Yates, 25.
Moyles's mickey-taking derives from his days on Radio Topshop, entertaining bored sales staff, after he left school aged 16. He quickly impressed Radio 1 producers with his technical skill as a desk operator when he joined in 1997.
He explained in an interview: "When I got offered the job by Andy [Parfitt, Radio 1 Controller], I told him he needed to trust me not to get us all in the shit. He does."
Moyles, who recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief, knows his audience, but BBC executives' patience is finite. Top of the list for Radio 1's new deputy controller Ben Cooper – formerly Moyles's producer – will be keeping the station's loudest talent on the leash.
Big mouth strikes again The DJ's misdemeanours
*On Charlotte Church's 16th birthday in 2002, Moyles offered to take her virginity, or, as he put it, "lead her through the forest of her sexuality". Ofcom upheld the complaints.
*Last December, Moyles said Polish people made good prostitutes: "I just find that if you're Polish, you're very good at ironing ... and prostitutes ..." He apologised for "unintentional offence".
*The actress Halle Berry took offence at Moyle's impersonation of a "big, fat, black guy" and asked if he was being racist. Moyles described her as "ratty".
*In 2004, Moyles quizzed Victoria Beckham on when she conceived her first child, Brooklyn. He asked: "Am, I right in thinking you weren't married then? You whore." She laughed it off.
*Moyles described John Peel as "Kenny Everett-in-waiting". Why? Because "Kenny Everett's dead and it's only a matter of time before John pops his clogs".
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