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Celebrity Big Brother tops Ofcom list of TV complaints of the 2010s

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Roxanne Pallett’s controversial stay on Celebrity Big Brother in 2018 sparked more complaints to TV regulator Ofcom than any other show this decade.

More than 25,000 people complained after she claimed fellow soap star Ryan Thomas had punched her, when footage suggested he was only play fighting.

That’s three times more than the next show on the list – Loose Women’s clash between Kim Woodburn and Coleen Nolan.

Channel 4’s 2015 documentary UKIP: The First 100 days was in third place.

Most complaints to Ofcom this decade:

  1. Celebrity Big Brother, Channel 5 – 30, 31 August, 1 September 2018. 25,327 complaints about the incident involving Roxanne and Ryan
  2. Loose Women, ITV – 29 August 2018. 8,002 complaints, including 7,912 about an interview with Kim Woodburn
  3. UKIP: The First 100 Days, Channel 4 – 16 February 2015. 6,187 complaints, most saying the portrayal of UKIP was misleading, offensive and biased
  4. Sky News – 27 September 2018. 3,463 viewers alleged bias and defamation of character in the editing of an interview with Tommy Robinson
  5. The X Factor, ITV – 11 December 2010. 2,868 complaints that performances by Rihanna and Christina Aguilera were too explicit for broadcast before the watershed
  6. Channel 4 News – 29 March 2019. 2,717 complaints after presenter Jon Snow said, after a day of Brexit rallies, that he had “never seen so many white people in one place”
  7. Love Island, ITV2 – 1 July 2018. 2,644 viewers raised concerns about emotional distress to contestants, specifically Dani Dyer
  8. The Wright Stuff, Channel 5 – 6, 7, 8 December 2011. 2,358 complaints that Matthew Wright and a guest made light of a murder in the Hebrides
  9. Big Brother, Channel 5 – 24 June 2015. 2,024 complaints about comments made by contestant Helen Wood about fellow housemate Brian Belo
  10. Sky News with Kay Burley – 5 June 2015. 1,838 complaints about the tone of Kay Burley’s interview with Merlin Entertainment chief executive Nick Varney after the Alton Towers rollercoaster crash

Ofcom found that none of the top 10 broke its broadcasting rules. All were on commercial channels.

The BBC has a separate complaints system and Ofcom usually only considers complaints about BBC programmes after a person has been through the corporation’s own complaints system.

Last week, the  Afrikanbaze revealed that 12,172 people had complained that Andrew Marr’s interview with Boris Johnson on 1 December was biased against the prime minister.

That was the highest number since the corporation began publishing a breakdown of complaints in the current format two years ago.

The next highest total during that time is 6,934 about BBC One’s Meat: A Threat To Our Planet?, screened on 25 November, which was accused of being biased against the British farming industry.

Revealing its figures, Ofcom director of content standards Tony Close said: “Overwhelmingly, the most contentious programmes of the 2010s were either reality shows – like Love Island, Big Brother and The X Factor – or news and current affairs.

“Why is that? One important reason might be the rise of social media over the decade. We know people like to discuss reality shows online. And in a time of political change, social media has also shaped increasingly passionate debate around news coverage.”


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