BBC bosses swear by 'indecent' Jerry Springer opera

By Ciar Byrne,Media Correspondent
Wednesday 05 January 2005 01:00

A television viewers' group has urged the BBC not to "push back boundaries of taste and decency" by screening the musical Jerry Springer: The Opera , which features about 200 swear words.

Mediawatch-UK, the successor to Mary Whitehouse's National Viewers and Listeners Association, says that it has been inundated with e-mails and telephone calls from licence fee-payers protesting against the BBC's decision to televise the stage production based on the US talkshow host.

The director of Mediawatch, John Beyer, has written to the BBC chairman Michael Grade calling on him to reconsider the decision to screen the show on Saturday, 8 January.

"The continuous stream of obscene and profane language, as well as the debauched behaviour that characterised Mr Springer's shows, is unacceptable and will alienate a large number of viewers. Licence fee-payers do not expect the BBC to be pushing back boundaries of taste and decency in this way," said Mr Beyer.

The BBC commissioned a screen version of the West End show as part of a drive to "introduce a new generation of viewers to opera". It has starred David Soul and was written by Stewart Lee and Richard Thomas, and has been a huge critical success receiving four major awards including the Olivier Award for best musical. Lee and Thomas have been signed up to write a further six bespoke comic operas for the BBC, based on different television formats such as Question Time .

A BBC spokeswoman said that Mr Grade had not yet received the letter from Mediawatch and was thus unable to comment.

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