The Most Complained-About TV Moments

The Most Complained-About TV Moments

The King’s Coronation and Piers Morgan’s controversial comments about Harry and Meghan on Good Morning Britain are among the most complained about TV programmes in Ofcom’s history.

The media watchdog has marked the 500th edition of its fortnightly broadcast bulletin, first started on January 27 2004, by reflecting on milestone moments across the last two decades.

Morgan holds the top spot after 54,595 complaints were made when he said he did not believe claims made by Meghan about her mental health during her interview with Oprah Winfrey.

After clashing with a co-presenter on the show, Morgan left the show for good.

The media watchdog later ruled that the episode on March 8 2021 was not in breach of the broadcasting rules, saying Morgan’s comments were ‘potentially harmful and offensive’ but that it also ‘took full account of freedom of expression’.

The Most Complained-About TV Moments

Piers Morgan holds the top spot after 54,595 complaints were made when he said he did not believe claims made by Meghan about her mental health during her interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021

Channel Four’s Celebrity Big Brother came in second place with 45,159 complaints after it was found in breach of the broadcasting code when the late Jade Goody, S Club 7 singer Jo O’Meara, 45, and model Danielle Lloyd, 40, directed abuse at Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty, 49, in 2007.

Some of the behaviour included Ms Goody referring to the star as ‘Shilpa Poppadom’, Ms Lloyd telling Ms Shetty, in foul language, that she should go home to India, and an argument over Ms Shetty preparing a chicken in which offensive comments about Indian cooking were made.

Oh Brother: The late Jade Goody came under fire and sparked Ofcom complaints around her rows with Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty on Celebrity Big Brother

Oh Brother: The late Jade Goody came under fire and sparked Ofcom complaints around her rows with Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty on Celebrity Big Brother

Diversity's Black Lives Matter-inspired routine on ITV's Britain's Got Talent in 2020 came in fourth with 25,017 complaints

Diversity’s Black Lives Matter-inspired routine on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent in 2020 came in fourth with 25,017 complaintsĀ 

Ofcom ruled against Channel 4 and the broadcaster apologised on air.

Another Celebrity Big Brother moment came in 2018 when former Emmerdale actress Roxanne Pallett accused former Coronation Street star Ryan Thomas of repeatedly physically assaulting her.

The incident took the third spot receiving 25,327 complaints.

After walking out of the show – this time it had moved to Channel 5 – Ms Pallett apologised and said she had made ‘a massive, horrible mistake’ and Ofcom ruled the incident did not break broadcasting rules.

Diversity’s Black Lives Matter-inspired routine on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent in 2020 came in fourth with 25,017 complaints, while Love Island contestant Faye Winter’s behaviour and language during a heated exchange with fellow islander Teddy Soares took fifth place with 24,921 complaints.

Julia Hartley-Brewer’s heated exchange with a Palestinian MP on her TalkTV show is the only programme from 2024 to make the top 10 list, coming in at number six after it garnered 17,351 complaints in January.

Ofcom ruled that the episode, in which the broadcaster discussed the Hamas-Israel war with Dr Mustafa Barghouti, did not raise issues under its rules, but it told TalkTV to ‘take extra care to ensure potentially offensive comments are justified’.

I’m a Celebrity Get Me out of Here in 2020, took seventh place, having received 11,516 complaints in 2020 over the use of live animals in trials.Ā 

And Dan Wootton’s GB News programme in 2023 where Laurence Fox made misogynistic comments about Ava Evans came in eighth place with 8,867 complaints.

Dan Wootton's GB News programme in 2023 where Laurence Fox made misogynistic comments about Ava Evans came in eighth place with 8,867 complaints

Dan Wootton’s GB News programme in 2023 where Laurence Fox made misogynistic comments about Ava Evans came in eighth place with 8,867 complaints

Tenth on the list was King Charles III: The Coronation which was broadcast in May last year. The programme received 8,421 complaints after Bridgerton actress Adjoa Andoh described the Royal Family's appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony as 'terribly white'

Tenth on the list was King Charles III: The Coronation which was broadcast in May last year. The programme received 8,421 complaints after Bridgerton actress Adjoa Andoh described the Royal Family’s appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony as ‘terribly white’

The incident was the second of only two complaints in the top ten to have breached Ofcom’s code.

Jerry Springer the Opera on BBC2 received 8,860 complaints in 2005 about the programme’s representation of the Christian community.

At ninth place on the list it was the first time Ofcom had seen high volumes of standards and ‘the first large scale internet campaign to Ofcom on any broadcasting issue’.

Tenth on the list was King Charles III: The Coronation which was broadcast in May last year.

The programme received 8,421 complaints after a comment made by Adjoa Andoh during ITV’s live broadcast.Ā 

The actress, who plays Lady Danbury in the Netflix hit Bridgerton, described the Royal Family’s appearance on Buckingham Palace balcony as ‘terribly white’.

Ofcom concluded that the comments didn’t raise any issues.

Across the last 20 years, Ofcom has assessed 770,714 complaints and 156,988 cases, resulting in Ā£15,875,250 total fines being given to broadcasters.

In this time, it has also closed 3,286 standard investigations, with 2,166 found to be in breach, 576 being resolved and 545 found to not be in breach or discontinued.

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