Jo Brand's Controversial Battery Acid Joke 'Went Too Far', BBC Rules

29 August 2019, 14:45 | Updated: 29 August 2019, 14:54

Jo Brand made the joke when talking about milkshake being thrown at Nigel Farage
Jo Brand made the joke when talking about milkshake being thrown at Nigel Farage. Picture: PA

BBC rules Jo Brand's joke about throwing battery acid at those in the public eye "went beyond what was appropriate" for a Radio 4 comedy show.

Complaints about the 62-year-old comedian's gag were partially upheld by the corporation, however they dismissed the idea that her quip amounted to an incitement to violence.

The comedian landed herself in hot water over a joke she made on BBC Radio 4's Heresy in June where she implied that public figures like Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson should get battery acid thrown at them instead of milkshakes.

Jo Brand's joke angered Nigel Farage
Jo Brand's joke angered Nigel Farage. Picture: PA

Ms Brand said: "Certain unpleasant characters are being thrown to the fore and they’re very, very easy to hate and I’m kind of thinking: “Why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?”

She added: "That’s just me, sorry. I’m not gonna do it, it’s purely a fantasy, but I think milkshakes are pathetic, I honestly do. Sorry."

At the time, Nigel Farage responded to the comedian's remarks arguing that it was an incitement to violence and would be a different story had he made the remarks about Ms Brand.

He said: "I am sick to death of overpaid, left wing, so-called comedians on the BBC who think their view is morally superior. Can you imagine the reaction if I had said the same thing as Jo Brand?"

The BBC's Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) disagreed with Mr Farage's accusation, saying "it has considered the context in which the words were spoken."

The unit continued: "Whilst the ECU recognised that the wider message from this episode is an argument for more civility in political discourse, not less, and Ms Brand's contribution is not intended to be taken as face value, the ECU felt that it went beyond what was appropriate for the show.

"So it was partially upheld against generally accepted standards of BBC output. The ECU also noted that in the right context and with the right treatment, there is no subject matter which should be beyond the scope of comedy."

In June, then Prime Minister Theresa May joined the discussion asking the BBC to explain why it had broadcast the comments.

Following the corporation's internal investigation, Ofcom will now choose whether or not to investigate after they received 444 complaints about the joke.

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