BBC says sorry to Buckingham Palace for sex jokes

The BBC has apologised to Buckingham Palace after 12 complaints were received about an episode of Don’t Make Me Laugh.

The BBC Radio 4 show, which was hosted by David Baddiel, featured a discussion about the Queen and sex on April 21st 2016. Complainants considered that references to the Queen in the programme were offensive and inappropriate. A number of complaints referred to the fact that the programme was broadcast on the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Ofcom received 12 complaints about the episode which had Russell Kane, Sara Pascoe, Omid Djalili and Adam Hess on as guests. Round two of the show was introduced by David Baddiel:

“…in an effort to demonstrate just how grown up and sophisticated we’ve become…I would like you Russell Kane to tell us why there is nothing funny about the fact that…”

Announcer: “the Queen must have had sex at least four times [laughter from the studio audience]”.

The panel of comedians responded by making a number of personal comments about Prince Philip and the Queen. For example, Russell Kane said the following:

“Four times we have to think of republicanism as we imagine four children emerging from Her Majesty’s vulva and for me– [audience laughter] …”

The BBC said that the programme had “attracted a significant number of complaints from listeners about the content and the timing” of the broadcast on the day of the Queen’s 90th birthday. It considered that the broadcast was “a regrettable failure of editorial judgement and compliance processes”. It was broadcast at 1830 instead of its usual late night slot.

Following the broadcast the BBC said it had: cancelled the scheduled repeat broadcast; removed the programme from BBC iPlayer; moved the remainder of the series back to its original 23:00 slot; apologised to Buckingham Palace; and, published the following apology on the Corrections and Clarification page of its website the next day:

“While BBC Radio 4 comedy is a broad church and often pushes boundaries, we would like to apologise for this broadcast of Don’t Make Me Laugh. We never intended for the scheduling of the programme to coincide with the Queen’s birthday and are sorry for the offence caused by its timing and content.”

Ofcom found the show in breach of the Broadcasting Code and the BBC has not recommissioned the series.

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