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Gogglebox’s Malone family issues heartfelt response to social distancing complaints

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Kayleigh Dray
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Gogglebox on Channel 4: The Malone family

Ofcom has received 134 complaints about the Gogglebox cast’s apparent breaching of the UK’s lockdown rules.

Unlike so many other TV shows, Gogglebox has continued to film during the coronavirus lockdown. And, while many have welcomed the regular episodes with open arms (the heartwarming and often hilarious series has made the Covid-19 crisis feel less frightening, less lonely), there are those who have filed complaints about it.

As previously confirmed by Channel 4, Gogglebox filmmakers have changed the way they shoot episodes. Rather than welcoming a camera crew into their home, the cast has had cameras rigged up so their reactions can be captured as usual.

As Ian Katz, Channel 4’s director of programming, said: “The coronavirus outbreak is an enormous creative challenge for all broadcasters and though it is having a profound impact on getting some of our productions onto screen, it’s also a time when public service broadcasters like Channel 4 can step up and help people navigate through the extraordinary challenges we all now face.”

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Despite this reassurance, though, Ofcom has received 134 complaints about the Gogglebox cast’s apparent breaching of the UK’s lockdown rules.

The main target for criticism were sisters Ellie and Izzie, who, despite not living together, have continued to film episodes alongside one another.

However, it’s the Malones – aka Tom, Julie, Tom Jnr, Shaun, Dave The Dog, and a few extra rottweilers to boot – who have weighed in on the debate.

“Just going to put this out there so we are all up to date,” wrote Julie, speaking on behalf of the family.

“I know the social distancing rules, too. I love my grandkids, I would never put them or anyone else’s health in danger. My daughter and her children live with us, so she can go to work as a nurse.”

Her heartfelt post has won support from fans on social media, with many sending the family their well-wishes.

“You shouldn’t have to explain yourselves to no one! People are just wanting to twist everything at the moment,” tweeted one.

Another responded: “You don’t have to explain yourself. I made the difficult decision last weekend to have my granddaughter over. My daughter has multiple health problems and her mental health was deteriorating rapidly. For both their mental health, I brought my granddaughter over to us.”

And still one more said: “I wish people would remember the phrase, ‘Is it any of my business?’ before they jump in and judge.

“You keep doing what you’re doing. Thank you to your daughter from me.”

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In a statement responding to the furore, Channel 4 has said: “Most of the families live together but where they don’t, they are complying with PHE social distancing guidelines.

Gogglebox will only film with families where it’s safe to do so. The health and safety of our cast and crew is paramount.”

And, shortly before the most recent  episode of the show aired on 1 May, the Channel 4 continuity announcer informed viewers: “Just in case you’re worried, they are all keeping to the guidelines of social distancing.”

Gogglebox will continue to air at 9pm on Fridays, Channel 4.

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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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