This is the TV moment that attracted the most complaints of 2018

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Kayleigh Dray
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The scenes sparked 27,602 complaints from viewers, according to Ofcom.

There’s no point denying it: television has dominated the headlines (and our lives) in 2018.

Over the past few months, we’ve spent hours discussing the real-life events that inspired The Handmaid’s Tale, questioning everything we thought we knew in The Cry, and obsessing over Jodie Comer’s Villanelle (of Killing Eve fame).

Then there’s the moment Black Mirror rewrote the narrative on sexual assault, the feminist fashion secrets hidden within Doctor Who, and Bodyguard’s taboo-breaking around men’s mental health. Above all else, we’ve been bowled over by the sheer number of incredible feminist TV shows on offer this year – and planned our schedules to fit each and every last one of them in, too.

But TV doesn’t necessarily always make news for the right reasons – and now the ‘most shocking’ (read: the most complained about) TV moment of 2018 has been revealed.

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Topping the list of TV shows that attracted the most complaints this year (released by Ofcom) is Celebrity Big Brother, which received 27,602 complaints from viewers.

This is largely due to the controversy that saw Roxanne Pallett accuse Coronation Street’s Ryan Thomas of “punching” her during a play fight. She eventually quit the show and apologised for getting the situation “massively wrong”, and Thomas went on to win the reality show’s final series.

Following close behind is Loose Women, which received 8,002 complaints. According to Ofcom, the majority of those were related to an interview conducted with Kim Woodburn as a guest on the talk show panel, when she became embroiled in an argument with Coleen Nolan and other panellists before storming off.

And Sky News is third on the list with 4,251 complaints, of which more than 3,000 are around alleged bias in the editing of an interview with controversial figure Tommy Robinson. 

Here is the list of the 10 most complained about TV programmes of 2018:

Celebrity Big Brother – 27,602 complaints

Loose Women – 8,002

Sky News – 4,251

Love Island – 4,192

Coronation Street – 1,098

Emmerdale – 759

Good Morning Britain – 548

This Morning – 402

I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! – 335

The X Factor – 286

Responding to the list, Ofcom’s Tony Close, director of content standards, licensing & enforcement, said: “Viewers are as passionate about what they watch as ever, discussing programmes with their friends and family, and with other people on social media.

“They complain to us when they think programmes have fallen below the standards they expect, and we carefully assess each and every complaint we receive. This year, we’ve taken action on many occasions where programmes have fallen short of the standards required by our rules.”

He also noted that 2018 has seen a significantly larger number of complaints made about TV shows: this year’s figure stands at almost 56,000, while the total number of complaints about radio and TV programmes in 2017 was a mere 16,068.

And, as ludicrous as it seems in light of the events which sparked this year’s list, the most controversial TV moment of 2017 was…

Yup, it was a dress Amanda Holden wore on Britain’s Got Talent. Go figure.

The Julien Macdonald designed dress, which cost £11,250 sparked a whopping 663 calls, emails and other messages to OFCOM as the public descended into absolute panic over the “inappropriate” gown.

Why? Because the neckline plunged down to Holden’s belly button, and the concept of the female form is far too much for some people to handle.

It was the same old story: the public wanted her to cover up, to put a cardi on, to protect the innocent children from an onslaught of bare skin and mammary glands.

And a few, under the guise of protecting the planet from the terrors of a designer dress, even jumped aboard the bandwagon to hurl a few body-shaming comments in Holden’s direction, too.

Let’s put this into perspective, shall we? Holden’s dress was deemed more inappropriate and more complaint-worthy than all of the following:

  • Comic Relief 2017, which attracted 240 official complaints after Russell Brand used the phrase “f**king hell” before the watershed.
  • An episode of Emmerdale, which saw 275 people complain after a character was seen being violently abused in a jail cell.
  • Good Morning Britain, which received over 181 complaints after they aired a live interview with Tommy Robinson – and, essentially, offered a platform on daytime television to a far-right political activist and former leader of the controversial English Defence League.
  • 137 complaints were lodged after Sherri Hewson’s character on ITV’s Benidorm described a man with a cleft lip as having “a voice like a 13-year-old girl and a face like a dropped pie”.

So, essentially, that’s inappropriate language, violent scenes, derogatory references about people with facial malformation, and irresponsible publicity for a contentious jackweed from the EDL.

And, yes, all of the above were deemed to be less inflammatory than a woman wearing a dress.

Thankfully, it seems as if women’s bodies have been deemed less controversial TV fodder in 2018… which, to be honest, comes of something as a surprise to us, particularly as Meghan Markle was slated for accidentally flashing the merest glimpse of a bra strap earlier this year.

To celebrate, we will continue to rise above the noise (and the ridiculous OFCOM complaints) and dress up however the bloody hell we want to.

Got a problem with that? You’re entitled to your own opinion, obviously, and we welcome any and all complaints. If you’d like to make one formally, then please do take your perpetual outrage, write it down, stick it in an envelope and shove it deep into the bodily orifice of your choosing. 


Images: Channel 4


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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