It’s well known that we Brits complain a hell of a lot, about almost everything (the weather, the cost of living, litter, lists, football, etc. etc.), but sometimes I am quite taken aback at the kind of things that many of my fellow citizens choose to complain about.
This week, for example, a three-minute sketch featuring Rowan Atkinson as the Archbishop of Canterbury, received more complaints than any other item or program broadcast on British television during the whole of 2013.
Say what? You mean compared to even Fox News on satellite?
The BBC received over 2,500 complaints over the skit, while media regulator Ofcom registered 487 disgruntled viewers venting their spleen.
The sketch was included a BBC charity telethon Comic Relief, with the main complaints being over Rowan Atkinson using bad language, his claiming God likes to swear (well apart form the “F” word), saying prayer “doesn’t work,” and that the boy band One Direction were like Jesus’s disciples. All rather tame really.
This is in comparison to Lady Gaga in second place for her performance in flesh-colored bra and knickers on ITV’s The X Factor. This received only 317 complaints.
Offensive comments made by a housemate in Channel 4’s reality show Big Brother prompted 305 complaints. (Though Big Brother was the most whinged about series with 965 complaints.)
ITV News coverage of the murder of soldier Lee Rigby had 278 complaints. The controversial rape scene in ITV’s drama series Downtown Abbey had 246.
Why so many were upset by the wonderful Mr. Atkinson gently poking fun at the dear old Arch., heaven alone knows. But that’s the British for you, it’s the small things that really get our goat.
That said, Mr. Atkinson’s brother Rodney Atkinson was apparently upset by the sketch as he told the Daily Wail earlier this year that he thought it “insulting.”
‘My main problem was the smuttiness . . . The use of the word s*** was crude and rather pathetic.
‘The performance could be seen as insulting to Christians as a whole . . . I was appalled by it.’
He added: ‘I’m sure [Rowan] will be mortified at the public’s response, because he certainly has supported the Church of England. He’s even donated to his local church.’
Mr Atkinson said he has not spoken to his brother about the show. It is thought they do not have a close relationship.
I think that last sentence probably speaks volumes.
A full list of the year’s complaints can be found here.
Thank you Michael Backes of Los Angeles, California!