Ofcom clears Dancing On Ice judge Jason Gardiner over Sharron Davies 'faecal matter' comment

Dancing On Ice judge Jason Gardiner did not fall foul of broadcasting rules by condemning a performance by Sharron Davies as like "faecal matter that won't flush", Ofcom ruled today.

The TV watchdog received more than 400 complaints following the judge's put-down about the former Olympic swimmer, who was eventually knocked out of the contest last night.

But Ofcom found that the cutting remark by Gardiner - who was likened by the regulator to a "pantomime villain" - was within the rules.

During an episode on January 31, Gardiner told Davies, 47, who was wearing a brown costume: "It was like watching faecal matter that won't flush - it goes around and around and around and in the end it doesn't go anywhere."

Ofcom received 443 complaints, with viewers saying the comments were offensive, upsetting and unsuitable to be heard by children.

The watchdog found Gardiner used "unusual language" which was "potentially offensive" - but the watchdog considered that he is well-established as the acerbic "nasty" judge on the ITV1 show.

Ofcom said Gardiner "seems quite content to play up to his 'pantomime villain' image within the format of the show".

"This was demonstrated by the fact that every comment he makes is almost invariably booed by the audience, as was the case regarding the comments he made about Sharron Davies on this occasion."

It also noted that others on the show immediately distanced themselves from the remarks and presenter Holly Willoughby swiftly moved on to the next judge, Karen Barber, and pointedly asked her not to comment on Davies's costume.

Ofcom also said the remark "could be considered to be more of a medical term rather than a more commonly-used offensive word" and was used to evaluate a performance, rather than being against a particular person.

The ruling said: "Ofcom considered that the audience to this programme, in general, would have come to expect negative comments being expressed by the judges about particular contestants, and that this would have been particularly the case concerning comments made by Jason Gardiner."

The ruling continued: "We noted that a number of complainants expressed concern that the term 'faecal matter' was unsuitable to be heard by children who might have been watching.

"While Dancing On Ice is intended for a family audience, it is not a programme that is primarily aimed at children."

Davies bowed out of the contest last night. She was up against Inbetweeners star Emily Atack in the skate-off but was voted out of the competition by the judges, who opted unanimously to save her younger rival.