Television Awards refute claims Jack Whitehall is under pressure to stand down amid Big Quiz of the Year controversy

A poll of Independent readers found that 95% of you don't think participants on the panel show took the joke too far

Matilda Battersby
Thursday 03 January 2013 11:26 GMT

Claims that Jack Whitehall is under pressure to stand down as presenter of a prize at the National Television Awards following complaints about his performance on a recent Channel 4 panel show have been refuted by TV bosses today.

Whitehall’s suitability to appear on ITV’s National Television Awards later in January was called into question by NTA producer George Mitchell who told the Daily Mail he wanted to hold a “summit conference” with colleagues to decide if Whitehall should still appear on the show.

Mitchell told The Daily Mail he feared the controversy could “run and run” and would like to offer Whitehall “the chance to withdraw”.

But Kim Turberville, creator and executive producer of the NTA, told The Independent: "Contrary to spurious reports earlier today, I would like to confirm that there has been no crisis summit over Jack Whitehall’s invitation to present an award at this year’s National Television Awards."

"We are very much looking forward to welcoming him on January 23 for our live show.”

The furore began when a highly critical article appeared in the Daily Mail on New Year's Day about Channel 4's Big Quiz of the Year which was broadcast on Sunday night.

It criticised the show for featuring a lewd joke about the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, sexual gags about US President Barack Obama, sprinter Usain Bolt and singer Susan Boyle.

An Independent Voices survey conducted yesterday asked readers if The Big Quiz of the Year had taken jokes too far. Of the approximately 6,000 respondents 95 per cent voted “no”.

The pre-recorded show, presented by Jimmy Carr, starred Whitehall alongside Gavin and Stacey actor James Corden and talk show host Jonathan Ross.

Both Whitehall and Corden appeared to be drinking red wine on the show, which is an annual satirical round-up news and events from the past 12 months.

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Ofcom confirmed yesterday that it had received around 80 complaints by yesterday lunchtime but added that the vast majority were made in response to the negative media coverage.

In the 24 hours following the television quiz's broadcast Ofcom received fewer than 10 complaints.

Channel 4 has decided to screen The Big Fat Quiz of the Year for a second time tomorrow evening.

A Channel 4 spokesman said: "[The show] is being shown as planned [on Friday]. It is being broadcast in a late night slot [11.35pm] and will again be preceded by the appropriate warnings about strong language and humour".

MP Conor Burns, a member of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, has written to Channel 4 questioning why the quiz was broadcast as early as 9pm.

The outcry is a reminder of that prompted by Ross who was suspended from the BBC in 2008 after he and Russell Brand left lewd messages on the answerphone of veteran actor Andrew Sachs.

Ross later quit the BBC and said one reason was to avoid the "sheer volume of negative press" he was attracting to the corporation.

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