British Comedy Guide

Viewers complain about Have I Got News For You episode

Thursday 16th November 2017, 7:05pm

  • The BBC has received over 200 complaints about an episode of Have I Got News For You
  • It saw host Jo Brand rebuking the all-male panel for not taking sexual harassment allegations seriously
  • The BBC says: "Jo Brand made her points so eloquently in taking panel members to task"
Have I Got News For You. Jo Brand.

The recent episode of Have I Got News For You in which guest host Jo Brand had to rebuke the all-male guest line-up for seemingly not taking allegations of sexual harassment seriously has received over 200 complaints from viewers.

The episode - first broadcast on the 3rd November - tops the list of BBC programmes the Corporation has received complaints about over the past fortnight. Of the 8,377 complaints the BBC received between the 30th October and 12th November (5,529 of which were about programmes), 234 were related to the Series 54, Episode 5 edition of the long-running panel show.

The episode featured Miles Jupp and journalist Quentin Letts as the guests, alongside show regulars Ian Hislop and Paul Merton.

With the programme looking at allegations about MP's behaviour, Hislop commented "Some of this isn't high level crime is it, compared to say Putin or Trump?".

Brand then responded: "If I can just say, as the only representative of the female gender here today... I know it's not high-level, but it doesn't have to be high-level for women to feel under siege in somewhere like the House of Commons. And, actually, for women if you're constantly being harassed, even in a small way, that builds up and that wears you down."

The segment from the show can be seen here:

Following a round of applause from the audience, Hislop then said: "As you point out, we're four blokes sitting around you; we're hardly in a position to say 'that's rubbish'".

'Overnight' ratings figures released at the time show 3.89 million viewers watched the Friday night broadcast, with a further 1.7 million tuning in to the Monday repeat.

The complaint figures have been revealed as part of new rules which require the BBC to reveal each fortnight the number of complaints it has received, and to identify within those figures any shows that received more than 100 complaints.

Have I Got News For You and Strictly Come Dancing were the two TV broadcasts in the fortnight which passed the 100 complaints threshold. Comments about the dancing show were about a range of disparate issues, however those writing in about Have I Got News For You were focused around how the topical comedy covered Westminster's sexual harassment allegations.

Responding, the BBC said: "Given the extensive coverage that arose from allegations of sexual misconduct in Westminster it would have been odd for Have I Got News For You to ignore this story.

"Guests are booked in advance, rather than for particular topics, and we try very hard to book guests from all areas of the political spectrum.

"This means there will sometimes be panel members with views that the audience and others on the show may disagree with. We do not necessarily share or endorse the views of the panellists and their material doesn't reflect the opinions of the BBC. The host is also there to chair the show and to add perspective and balance when needs be - as we saw when Jo Brand made her points so eloquently in taking panel members to task in this edition.

"While most viewers know what to expect from the programme, it doesn't set out to deliberately offend viewers. Its purpose is to be entertaining and to maintain the standards the show has set over the last 27 years. That said, we accept that tastes vary enormously and that some viewers might have a different point of view."

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