Complaints over level of TV violence soar

COMPLAINTS by television viewers went up by more than a third and complaints about levels of violence on the screen have more than doubled in 12 months, according to the Broadcasting Standards Council, writes Martin Wroe.

In its latest report, published yesterday, the council upheld complaints about an episode of the BBC's One Foot In The Grave, in which an elderly man was assaulted; an episode of the hospital drama Casualty, for 'excessive' treatment of urban violence; and This Morning on ITV, for an item in which a prisoner showed how to make weapons out of household goods.

The report, covering the period from April 1992 to March this year, said complaints relating to issues of violence rose from 10 per cent to 21 per cent.

In February, an episode of One Foot In The Grave, which draws up to 18 million viewers, depicted ill-treatment of elderly people in a residential home and showed an old man being struck across the mouth by the matron. When he falls to the floor he is kicked by another member of staff.

The BBC said the scenes were not out of place in a programme whose concern with the real frustrations and anxieties of later life is one of its most characteristic features. However, the council's complaints committee said that depicting the assault 'would have exceeded the expectations of many of the audience and could have caused needless distress'.

The council received 55 complaints over the levels of violence in an episode of Casualty depicting the development of a riot on a housing estate. The BBC had rescheduled the show after the 9pm watershed, but the council said its violence was 'excessive'.