TV & Movies

The most complained about TV moments of all time after BBC Prince Philip coverage triggers record 100,000 complaints

THE BBC's coverage of Prince Philip's death aimed to be comprehensive and respectful – but it left large numbers of viewers livid.

Over 100,000 complaints were made to the Beeb about the wall-to-wall tributes to the late Duke of Edinburgh, making it the most complained about TV event in British history.

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Many viewers were annoyed about their favourite programmes being ditched – including the MasterChef final – in favour of tributes to Prince Philip.

The record-breaking barrage of BBC complaints came just a month after Piers Morgan's Meghan Markle rant broke Ofcom's record with over 57,000 complaints.

Morgan, who quit GMB rather than apologise for calling the Duchess a liar, eclipsed previous levels of outrage which have involved Big Brother racism rows, tap-dancing Ku Klux Klansmen, and Michael Parkinson pretending to be possessed by a poltergeist.

Here, we run down the ten most complained-about moments in British TV history – including the notorious 'punchgate' row between Roxanne Pallett and Ryan Thomas…

10. Dani Dyer crying on Love Island

Love Island bosses found themselves on the receiving end of some serious rage from the Dani Dyer fan club in 2018.

Producers thought it would be a great wheeze to show her a clip of boyfriend Jack Fincham looking like his head has been turned by an ex.

Of course, nothing of the sort was going on and as Dani broke down in floods of tears, 2,644 complained to Ofcom that this kind of behaviour was very much not their type on paper.

9. Rihanna on The X Factor


Simon Cowell might have leapt out of his seat with joy, but not everyone was impressed with Rihanna's appearance on The X Factor in 2010.

Many parents watching complained she and Christina Aguilera, who also performed, weren't wearing much at all given the show's family-friendly timeslot.

And when the crotch-thrusting began, it was only a matter of time before the Ofcom switchboard started lighting up with objections.

When the dust had settled – and the skimpy outfits packed away – 2,868 had made official complaints.

8. Brass Eye: Paedogeddon

Chris Morris' pitch-black satire was never not going to get complaints – with the sort of subject matter that left many wondering how it ever got on air.

The 2001 programme, which made fun of TV coverage of paedophiles, also duped a number of celebrities, among them Phil Collins, into backing a spoof charity called Nonce Sense.

There was an almighty backlash that left Channel 4 scrambling to defend the show and around 3,000 viewers complained.

7. Bill Grundy and the Sex Pistols


It happened more than four decades ago, but Today presenter Bill Grundy's 1976 interview with the Sex Pistols remains shocking to this day.

The host, clearly mightily irritated with the band, poured petrol on an interview that was already burning out of control with the words: "Say something outrageous."

Guitarist Steve Jones duly obliged – calling Grundy a "dirty b***ard", a "dirty f***er" and a "f***ing rotter".

One viewer is said to have provided the ultimate complaint – by putting his foot through his brand-new £380 TV set.

6. Kim Woodburn on Loose Women

Even the sight of Janet Street-Porter dressed as a comedy judge couldn't disguise the ugliness when Kim Woodburn appeared on Loose Women.

She was brought in to bury the hatchet with Coleen Nolan, her former Celebrity Big Brother housemate, but within seconds there were hatchets flying everywhere as the pair traded insults.

In the end, Kim marched off the show calling Coleen "lying trash" and saying she'd been "cruelly mocked" by the singer and her sister Linda.

Either way, daytime viewers were mightily unimpressed, with 7,911 complaints being lodged with the TV watchdog in 2018.

5. BLM dance on Britain's Got Talent


Until Piers' remarks last month, Diversity's dance referencing the Black Lives Matter movement was the most complained-about moment of the decade.

It saw Ashley Banjo and his co-stars referencing the death of George Floyd in the US in dance with him face down on the stage with a police officer kneeling on him.

Some felt the scenes weren't appropriate for a family show and 24,500 complaints flew into Ofcom's inbox.

However, the TV watchdog remained utterly calm about it and eventually said it wouldn't be investigating.

4. Ghostwatch

The BBC terrified the nation's youngsters in 1992 when it aired this Halloween special that is said to have left at least two children with PTSD.

Broadcast from a 'haunted house' with only the slightest suggestion it was all set up, Ghostwatch was presented as if it were a live show.

It featured a line-up of BBC stars including Sarah Greene, who was 'murdered' by a malevolent spirit called Pipes.

In the shocking finale, Michael Parkinson was possessed by a demon 'on air' – speaking in Pipes' voice as he sung utterly creepy nursery rhymes.

BBC switchboards were jammed when 30,000 people called in during the show alone and the show has never been repeated since.

3. Piers v Meghan


Piers Morgan criticising Meghan Markle is nothing new – but their clash came to a head in dramtic fashion in March.

The 55-year-old said he didn't believe the Duchess after she claimed to have issues with her mental health and had been suicidal.

He was challenged over the views by co-star Alex Beresford, causing Piers to walk out of the studio.

But there was more drama to come as the star quit after refusing to apologise for his remarks in the wake of 57,000 Ofcom complaints.

2. Celebrity Big Brother rows


Celebrity Big Brother found itself engulfed in not one but two of the biggest scandals of the TV age.

First, a group of stars including Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd, and Jo O'Meara, were accused of racism against Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty in 2007.

The programme aired several shocking scenes, including the moment Jade referred to the Indian actress as "Shilpa Poppaadom".

The outrage was so deafening even Gordon Brown, then on the cusp of becoming Prime Minister, condemned it. And a staggering 44,5000 people complained to Ofcom.

Controversy reared its head again in 2018 when former Emmerdale actress Roxanne Pallett claimed she'd been "repeatedly punched" by Ryan Thomas.

The public were outraged as the moment, which was captured on camera, insisting the footage was playfighting, not assault.

The accusation was bad news for Roxanne who said later: “I’ve lost my career, my radio jobs, my life as I knew it, everything."

Ryan, meanwhile, went on to win the series amid 25,327 Ofcom complaints.

1. Jerry Springer: The Opera

What could be so offensive about an opera? Well, just ask the 55,000 people who complained about Jerry Springer: The Opera.

The stage show was broadcast on BBC Two, sparking a wave of outrage and becoming Britain's most complained-about broadcast ever.

Comedian Stewart Lee's show, which saw Jesus say he was a "bit gay", prompted fury from Christians who called it disrespectful.

Organisation Christian Voice protested at nine BBC offices and a record number of objections were received, many of them before the show even aired.

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