Ofcom criticises TV subtitling errors which turned 'toddlers' into 'Ayatollahs'

Report condemned examples of what it called “serious recognition errors”

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Subtitling mistakes have made programmes “unwatchable” for deaf viewers after errors which included transforming "toddlers" into "Ayatollahs", Ofcom has found.

The errors were highlighted in a report by the communications watchdog which said people relying on live subtitles had an “inferior” experience to other viewers.

The report quoted examples of what it called “serious recognition errors” including “they need a man” instead of “they need a mum” and “be given to ayatollahs” instead of be given to “our toddlers”.

Other examples of mistakes included the Star Wars character Princess Leia being called “Present Cesc lay ya” and lemon transcribed as “lepl on”.

It said 155 BBC shows needed live subtitles, with 53 on ITV, including popular programmes such as The Jeremy Kyle Show, The Graham Norton Show and Top Gear.

The issue was previously taken up by former home secretary David Blunkett who criticised subtitling standards and quoted an example from football commentary where Manchester United’s Patrice Evra's challenge on an opponent was rendered as “the Arsenal player has been fouled by a zebra”.

The Ofcom report said: “Live subtitling entails unavoidable delays which mean that speech and subtitling cannot be completely synchronised. Errors and omissions are also not uncommon. It is clear from viewers' feedback that, while subtitle users value the opportunity to watch live TV, they sometimes find live subtitling frustrating, and, on occasion, unwatchable.”