LONDON Weekend Television was last night forced to make a rare prime-time apology for a lewd joke about Norman Lamont, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, which was made during a live televised awards ceremony.
The apology came after the Independent Television Commission, which regulates commercial television, ruled that sexually explicit remarks by the comic Julian Clary during the British Comedy Awards, which attracted 13 million viewers eight days ago, were 'wholly unacceptable'.
The commission said that although the remarks were broadcast after the 9pm watershed, the programme had started at 8pm and was likely to have attracted and maintained a family audience. LWT says it received 18 phone calls complaining about the incident.
In a statement last night, the ITC said: 'LWT has unreservedly accepted the ITC's view and has informed the ITC that it intends to broadcast an apology in peak time on Sunday 19 December.
'LWT is also further tightening its compliance procedures to ensure that there is no recurrence.'
The statement added that, although the ITC recognised the risks that arose in live programme coverage, all licensees were required to ensure that its programme code was adhered to at all times.
The apology, which was broadcast by LWT last night at 8.30pm, stated: 'Some viewers may have been offended by remarks made by Julian Clary during the British Comedy Awards programme last Sunday. We would like to apologise for those remarks which were made during a live programme and were beyond our control.'
During the show, Mr Clary, famous for his camp humour and double entendres, walked on to the set and said: 'Oh, you've recreated Hampstead Heath for me'. He added: 'I have just been fisting Norman Lamont. Talk about a red box.'
The following day the remark, which refers to a form of anal penetration sometimes favoured by homosexuals, was branded by the Sun as 'too obscene to be mentioned in a family newspaper'. An LWT spokeswoman said that, in future, the company would be 'looking very hard' at who they allow on live shows, 'including Julian Clary'. It would also be reviewing the briefing procedures used to prepare artists scheduled to appear live.
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