Silent Witness episode prompts almost 500 complaints
Story by Jack Foley
AN EPISODE of BBC drama Silent Witness has prompted almost 500 complaints over its violent content.
Sunday’s episode (April 22, 2012) concluded with a scene in which a prison officer, played by Leo Gregory, repeatedly beat and kicked an inmate on the floor of a toilet cubicle.
It was aired after the 9pm watershed and carried a pre-programme warning to viewers of potentially violent and upsetting scenes.
But a total of 483 people still complained that the story was “too violent”. And while 6.1 million people tuned in for the opening episode on Sunday, the second part, which followed on Monday, saw that figure drop to 4.7 million.
The BBC has since pointed out that the climactic scene in question hid much of the violence behind a closed door – although viewers could still hear the screams of the victim and saw blood leaking out onto the floor.
One viewer described it as bordering on ‘torture porn’.
But in a statement, the BBC responded by saying: “We acknowledge that certain scenes may have been challenging but we filmed and presented them in such a way as to make sure that, although as a viewer the implication was there, it was never actually shown.”
“As programme makers we take our responsibility to the audience extremely seriously and try to make sure we strike the right balance between compelling drama without being unnecessarily graphic.”
Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom said it had received 35 complaints about the show and is currently assessing them.
As yet, no decision has been made on whether it will launch a formal investigation.