Shame on you, BBC

The BBC has chosen to defend some transphobic comments made by a gay comedian whose show they sponsor. In this clip where he’s talking about Thomas Beatie, he says: “If he hasn’t had genital surgery surely that just makes him a lesbian” and “that thing is still a woman”.

Here’s an excerpt from the response to Selina’s complaint:

I understand that you were unhappy because you felt that the presenter made offensive comments about Thomas Beatie.

I can assure you that no offence was intended. ‘The Graham Norton Show’ features trademark Norton comedy monologues, celebrity chat, eccentric stories and characters, and home-grown weirdness from the great British viewing public. The show provides him with a comedy vehicle to extract humour from people and events that interest him and his audience.

We try to ensure that post-watershed, anarchic comedy series are well signposted. As the BBC is a public service financed by the licence fee it must provide programmes which cater for the whole range of tastes in humour. We believe that there is no single set of standards in this area on which the whole of society can agree, and it is inevitable that programmes which are acceptable to some will occasionally strike others as distasteful. The only realistic and fair approach for us is to ensure that the range of comedy is broad enough for all viewers to feel that they are catered for at least some of the time.

There are so many things wrong with that response that I can’t even begin to address them. All I can think is, “WTF? Why is it that the dehumanization of a person/group of people is still considered funny?”

You can read more at Transphobia on Graham Norton and Graham Norton.

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This entry was posted in Companies Behaving Badly, Queer Issues, The Evil -ism's. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Shame on you, BBC

  1. Dave says:

    So, if someone attempted to make a racist joke, would they then defend that? God damn that’s sickening, BBC.

  2. Kimiko says:

    Ouch, that is so hurtful.

    I don’t like to watch ‘comedy’ that makes fun of people anyway, but my impression of the BBC just got dented badly.

  3. Kyrar says:

    This isn’t the first time the BBC’s tossed out that kind of non-apology, either – they stuck up for Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles when he was criticised on his use of ‘gay’ as a slur a couple of years ago, excusing it with “the word has come to mean ‘lame’ or ‘rubbish’ amongst young people” (never mind that using lame to mean ‘bad’ is just as problematic, and young queer people apparently don’t count…) Their higher-ups really, really don’t seem to care at all, as a rule. I’m disgusted beyond belief that they’re defending Graham Norton in this.

    They’re dismissing people’s complaints because they’re absolutely secure in the knowledge that they’ll get away with it, is what infuriates me the most. I wonder if something along the lines of a petition would have any effect? I’ll definitely be making all the potentially-sympathetic BBC watchers I know aware of this, at least.

  4. Some Guy says:

    I guess it’s only the ratings that can decide the outcome of this. If the show’s ratings go down, then other shows will learn that they can’t do stuff like that.

    Private companies also have the option of holding back their ad money, if they spend any on this show.

    If the show can continue to get ratings/ad money then our complaints are neutralized.

  5. tekanji says:


    I wonder if something along the lines of a petition would have any effect?

    Hmm, maybe. Sending complaints might work better, though. And, of course, passing along the story :) If the BBC feels that supporting stuff like that will lead to tangible damage to their reputation then they might change their tune.

  6. Angeline says:

    I think that writing is still the most effective way to state a complaint. It involves more effort; it’s harder to ignore than something from petitionline, and it’s more formal.

  7. myst3kpyro says:

    “I understand that you were unhappy because you felt that the presenter made offensive comments about Thomas Beatie.”
    This is a step below “I’m sorry that you were offended” for me.
    It’s a perfect example of weasel words (unhappy [try outraged], you felt). I hate apologies that make it entirely our fault, for not swallowing the bile and laughing at the joke, for bothering to speak up.
    Agh. I’m going to go write the BBC a letter when my head stops exploding.

  8. Jo says:

    Sorry, BBC. Intent != Effect. Epic, epic FAIL.

    This is a step below “I’m sorry that you were offended” for me.

    Exactly, myst3kpyro. The form of an apology without the substance.

  9. Pingback: That joke isn’t funny any more « bird of paradox

  10. Kirsten says:

    I got a very similar response from the BBC after complaining about rape jokes on ‘Mock the Week’. It read like a generic reply sent out to every complaint about the programme.

    It might be too late for this issue, but sending complaints to Ofcom as well as the BBC is a good idea, and is more likely to get a useful result.

Comments are closed.