Shropshire Star comment: TV morals still a hot topic

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

From time to time we all love a good moan – and few things appear to raise our dander more than poor behaviour on the box.

Jeremy Kyle

The West Midlands is a national hotspot when it comes to lodging official complaints about violence, foul language and debauchery on the small screen.

In some ways it is not surprising that in a 12-month period, 3,500 viewers in the region complained to Ofcom about what they had seen on TV.

This is, after all, the region that gave the world Mary Whitehouse, who a few decades ago waged a one woman war against the British media for supposedly encouraging low moral standards.

Mary was mocked remorselessly for her attitudes and even had a satirical comedy show named after her, much to her fury. But Ofcom’s figures suggest bad behaviour on the television can still wind us up.

While comedians such as Alf Garnett and Benny Hill used to annoy Mary Whitehouse, it is reality TV that leads to many of our objections today. In fact, the last series of Celebrity Big Brother accounted for almost half of the total complaints in the West Midlands, through antics involving racism and violence.

Loose Women also provoked a slew of complaints, although the outrage towards the ITV chat show appears to have been the result of a row that initiated on Celebrity Big Brother.

The sheer number of complaints do raise some interesting questions.

Television producers often say that what we see on the small screen is a reflection of society, but is this always the case? There is certainly a strong argument that TV can, at times, influence people’s behaviour.

Questions must also be asked over how far programme makers are willing to go in the quest for ratings. Certainly, Jeremy Kyle’s behaviour towards guests on his now scrapped chat show stretched the boundaries. Tragic suicides have also raised welfare questions about Love Island.

Mary Whitehouse’s views may seem old fashioned, but questions remain about the moral compass of many shows on our television sets today.

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