Ofcom was right to force ITV to stop showing The Only Way is Essex before watershed, but not because of the swearing

ITV has been told to stop the Sunday lunchtime repeat of The Only Way is Essex due to its adult content, but what about the example it sets to young viewers?

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The Independent Online

You may have heard that ITV has been forced to pull its Sunday lunchtime repeat of The Only Way is Essex because of too many sexual references and offensive language, which Ofcom deemed unsuitable for young children.

The offending episode was broadcast on ITV 2 at 1pm on 12 August. The half-hour show contained no fewer than 20 examples of bleeped out language as well as sexual hand gestures and conversations about sexual experiences, binge drinking and sexually transmitted diseases.

Now I’m no Mary Whitehouse but it seems to me that Ofcom made the right decision. Children watching TV on a Sunday lunchtime during half term shouldn’t be exposed to the ins and outs (literally) of the sex life of some chav with a radioactive tan, more implants than Darth Vader and an IQ which is probably much less than the young children viewing.

Of course exposing kids to the sex lives of anyone, not just idiots, is wrong. The over exposure to sex and the sexualisation of children are big problems in our society, not to mention drunkenness and binge drinking. But it also got me thinking, although – I reiterate – I’m no particular fan of censorship, shouldn’t we relegate shows like TOWIE to after the watershed for other reasons as well?

Like, for example, so kids don’t grow up thinking that attaching sparkly things to women’s vaginas is a worthy vocation? Or indeed that having sparkly things attached to their own private parts will be the height of chic? Or that being in an odd hybrid relationship called a ‘bromance’ where you get to amalgamate your names into something embarrassing like ‘Jirk’ is a noteworthy achievement.

How about the importance of not owning a pet micro-pig called ‘Mr Darcy’ and thinking this the height of sophistication? Not using words like ‘reem’ instead of beautiful? For girls not to grow up thinking that having breasts larger than their heads is important for self esteem? Or for boys not to grow up thinking that wearing hair nets, blow drying and generally spending more time getting ready than actually going out is equally important?

Okay, rant over. I think I’ve mentioned already that I really am not a fan of censorship so maybe I should stop moaning and offer some viable healthy alternatives instead. Very well. I will.  Here is my offering for a semi-reality TV show to fill the gap in ITV 2’s Sunday lunchtime schedule:

Imogen is a plain, flat-chested human rights lawyer living in a sleepy village in the Cotswolds. She runs a reading circle at the weekends which is attended by Sam, a charity fundraiser, and his sister Nicola, a non-practising lesbian who owns her own organic vegan health food shop. Imogen and Sam used to be in a relationship but they called it off a year ago in order to pursue a platonic partnership involving weekends away spent communing on a spiritual level through the medium of sacred dance, and basket weaving.

Nicola sources most of her organic produce from local farm small-holder and vet, Thomas DeVere. She is also secretly in love with Thomas’s wife Rosie. Much of the drama of series one comes from Nicola’s internal struggle to overcome this base passion with the help of scientology, aromatherapy and her own organic vegetables.

Meanwhile Thomas takes on two fruit pickers to help with the summer harvest. They are backpacking Swedish twin sisters Ingrid and Hilda. The sisters quickly make themselves popular around the farm with their earthy ways and quick laughter. That is until one night they drink a little too much organic blackcurrant wine with Thomas and, for a dare, kiss each other.

Thomas quietly goes to bed but the next day informs them that they must leave the farm – and the series. He is very firm.

Thomas’s wife Rosie tries to intercede with him to show some leniency with the girls – she had absolutely no part in Thomas’s decision to eject them – but Thomas will not listen. His code of ethics remains unbending on the subject of such licentious practices. He spends the next two days locked alone in his study, single-handedly wrestling with his decision to get rid of the girls. When he emerges he is exhausted – and sore – but finally at peace.

Imogen, meanwhile, takes on the case of a Romanian orphan due for deportation whose parents smuggled her into the country before both dying of polio. Professional conflict thus offsets personal drama as Imogen struggles with her associates over the exact application of clause 4, paragraph 2, subsection 3 of the relevant legislation.

This show has absolutely everything needed for a good drama except, of course, gratuitous sex and violence and a spurious obsession with appearances. I think I’ll call it The only Way Is the Right Path or TWIRP for short. As I keep telling you, I’m no advocate of censorship but wouldn’t this be a much better way to entertain our children and young people than force feeding them a diet of fake tans, implants and vagina embellishments?

ITV, you know where you can find me.