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Rowan Atkinson Comic Relief sketch given Ofcom all-clear

Story by Jack Foley

A COMIC Relief sketch starring Rowan Atkinson as a fictional Archbishop of Canterbury, which attracted over 2,000 complaints due to its content, did not breach broadcasting codes.

The ruling was made by Ofcom which arrived at its decision after “careful consideration”.

The sketch in question featured Atkinson comparing boy band One Direction to Jesus’s disciples and claiming that prayer “doesn’t work”. It actually attracted in excess of 2,200 complaints, largely because it had been shown pre-watershed but also because it was deemed as offensive to some people because of its views on religion.

At the time, the BBC apologised for the sketch, which had been “intended to amuse and entertain,” adding: “We did not mean to cause any offence.”

But the corporation did concede that the broadcast “was problematic for a number of different reasons” and “did not translate as we had hoped”.

In announcing its ruling, an Ofcom spokesman said: “In reaching this decision we took into consideration the context of the material.

“This included that Comic Relief is widely known for featuring irreverent and often absurd comedy sketches; the intention of the sketch was to create humour rather than seriously deride Christianity; and that the BBC took immediate action on the night of the broadcast, including issuing an apology for the tone of the sketch, removing it from BBC iPlayer and withdrawing a follow-up sketch due for broadcast later in the evening.”

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