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Unscreened film draws complaints

A RECORD number of viewers have complained to the broadcasting watchdog over a 'blasphemous' film which has not been screened.

The BBC has bought Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation Of Christ, but insists it has no plans to show it.

The film, which portrays Jesus marrying and committing adultery, was responsible for almost half of all complaints to the Broadcasting Standards Council over the past year.

A total of 1,054 people complained about the possibility of the film being shown, according to the BSC annual report published yesterday. 'This is a record number of complaints and people are concerned about blasphemy but there's nothing we can do unless it is shown,' the BSC said.

The BBC emphasised that The Last Temptation of Christ will not be screened. 'We have no plans to show it - it was a film we bought some time ago,' a spokeswoman said.

'It isn't uneconomical to buy something you don't screen because it was probably part of a package we got from the distributors. We often buy a huge number of films and there may be one or two we don't plan to use.'

During 1991/92 the council also upheld complaints about trailers for the horror film Freddie's Dead: The Final Nightmare and the anti- Vietnam war film Jacob's Ladder. Both were television advertisements for cinema showings and many parents objected to frightening scenes which children might see.

In particular, a shot of a torso in Jacob's Ladder aroused anger, while the mutilated killer in Freddie's Dead was regarded as an unsuitable character for screening before 9pm.

Viewers also complained after the ITV magazine show This Morning featured The Chippendales, a group of American male strippers. The closing moments of one programme showed the men removing various items of leather clothing. The BSC said the timing was unsuitable because it was screened immediately before a children's show.

In its fourth annual report the BSC said it had received almost 2,700 complaints during the year but only 898 were within its remit.

Of these, nearly 50 per cent concerned matters of taste and decency, a quarter expressed concern about sex scenes and just 8 per cent protested about too much violence.