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'Pushing back' the expletives

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The BBC's head of television yesterday declared that the corporation's output would next year feature less of Jonathan Ross telling Gwyneth Paltrow he'd "f*ck her", lest such choice language alienate viewers.

BBC Vision supremo Jana Bennett said Auntie would “push back” the number of expletives gracing the airwaves, following the Ross/Paltrow outrage back in May on the former's Friday-night chat show. The BBC Trust's conclusions regarding the Andrew Sachs "Manuelgate" scandal also passed judgement on Ross's chat-up line to the US thesp, describing it as “gratuitous and unnecessarily offensive”.

Bennett told the Manchester Media Festival that Ross had "agreed to reduce swearing in his television show after that incident". She explained: “There was a mutual thing to push back on the language. We didn’t want to get into a situation where we were pushing away part of the audience of the show.”

She further claimed that "anybody who tried to count swearwords on the BBC would see that they had become less frequent even since the early autumn", insisting: “We’ve actually been pushing back a bit on language. It is possible that some language alienates some audiences unnecessarily. There will be less F-ing but the blinding seems to be OK.”

Regarding the (small, apparently) percentage of swearing on the BBC not coming from Jonathan Ross's highly-paid gob, Bennett promised "greater discussion about the appropriateness of swearing". She cited the example of a documentary about soldiers in Afghanistan, which was "more likely to justify inclusion of profanities that might offend in different contexts". ®

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