Channel 4 rebuked for actor's incest joke

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The Independent Online
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Channel 4 was rebuked by the Independent Television Commission over a sick joke on The Word, its live youth programme, about a man committing incest with his children. An apology will be made before tomorrow's edition of the show about the remarks made on 17 December by the US actor, Alexis Arquette.

A SICK JOKE about a man committing incest with two of his children has provoked the Independent Television Commission into its sternest rebuke over indecency, writes Michael Leapman.

Channel 4 is being forced to apologise before tomorrow's edition of The Word, the live youth-oriented programme on which the remarks were made on 17 December by the American actor Alexis Arquette.

'While the ITC accepts that there are risks in live programming . . . where remarks are made which are entirely unacceptable this must be quickly acknowledged on air,' the ITC said. It has directed Channel 4 to improve procedures for controlling live programmes and 'not to repeat the offending remarks at any time'.

Channel 4 agreed that the joke should not have been told and said it did not make an immediate apology to avoid drawing further attention to the remarks. A spokesman said the Arquette interview was terminated quickly and the incident was not shown in the repeat.

The Word, from the independent production company Planet 24, has been in trouble before. In November 1992 the actor Oliver Reed had to helped from the studio in mid-show. 'At least Oliver Reed had form,' said someone close to the programme, 'but we had no reason to suspect that Arquette would do what he did.'