Express & Star comment: Waves of complaints over TV debauchery

From time to time we all love a good moan – and few things appear to raise our dander more than poor behaviour on the television.

Celebrity Big Brother attracted the majority of complaints in the West Midlands
Celebrity Big Brother attracted the majority of complaints in the West Midlands

The West Midlands is a national hotspot when it comes to lodging official complaints about violence, foul language and debauchery on the small screen.

In some ways it is not surprising that in a 12 month period, 3,500 viewers in the region complained to Ofcom about what they had seen on the box.

This is, after all, the region that gave the world Mary Whitehouse, who a few decades ago waged a one woman war against the British media for supposedly encouraging low moral standards.

Old Mary was mocked remorselessly for her attitudes and even had a satirical comedy show named after her – much to her fury, but Ofcom's figures suggest bad behaviour on the tele can still wind us up.

However, while comedians such as Alf Garnett, Benny Hill and Dave Allen used to annoy Mary Whitehouse, it is reality TV that leads to many of our objections today.

In fact, the last series of Celebrity Big Brother accounted for almost half of the total complaints in the West Midlands, with dodgy antics involving racism and violence prompting an angry response from viewers.

Loose Women also provoked a slew of complaints, although the outrage towards the ITV chat show appears to have been the result of a row that initiated on Celebrity Big Brother.

Unsurprisingly given the current political climate, news programmes also caused a lot of anger, but the sheer number of complaints do raise some interesting questions.

Television producers often say that what we see on the small screen is a reflection of society, but is this always the case?

There is certainly a strong argument that TV can, at times, influence people's behaviour.

Questions must also be asked over how far programme makers are willing to go in the quest for ratings.

Certainly, Jeremy Kyle's alleged behaviour towards guests on his now scrapped chat show seemed to stretch the boundaries of decency.

Mary Whitehouse's views may seem old fashioned, but if she could see some of what passes for entertainment these days she would be spinning in her grave.

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