Strictly Come Dancing – freezing and wet outside as the leaves change colour and fall, but on television double dip fake tan, sequins and sunshine smiles as celebrities dance with their professional partners. There will be innuendo, flesh will be shown, and family entertainment is delivered on a Saturday and Sunday night.
Weeknights It Takes Two continues with behind the scenes training, analysis of the last show and next week’s routines, with interviews of the dancing couples. Zoe Ball is cheery, cheeky and delightful keeping the innuendo going as host. Asking about celebrity Ben Cohen being topless on Saturday night during his routine the twinkle in her eye was there today.
Ben Cohen comes across as a big friendly giant, who is improving week by week even if he is not the best dancer on the show. Last weekend he danced without wearing a top. Charmingly, with softly spoken embarrassment, he answered Zoe Ball’s question about that and looked briefly perplexed when Zoe apologised on his behalf for swearing.
ZB: What did happen to your shirt? When did you decide to go topless?
BC: Oh Christ! [Everyone laughing] Actually do you know what it wasn’t necessarily that we were going to go topless. It was that the jacket looked like I had borrowed one of my kid’s jackets …
ZB: Must apologise for the little bit of swearing, family viewing, hope you weren’t offended by that.
Is saying “Oh Christ!” swearing, in a way that needs apologising but mild sexual references on a family viewing show is fine? Off to the BBC guidlines:
The effect of strong language depends on the choice of words, the speaker and the context. Different words cause different degrees of offence in different communities as well as in different parts of the world. A person’s age, sex, education, employment, faith, nationality and where they live, may all have an impact on whether or not they might be offended.
So this would be faith – and suspiciously like a blasphemy ruling masquerading as swearing possibly – though the context matters here hugely:
Context and tone are key to determining whether strong language will be acceptable or deemed unjustifiably offensive. We should consider the following:
⚫️What language was used, who used it, to whom it was directed and why it was said
⚫️How it was said. Was the tone angry or aggressive, or charming and funny? The same terms can be considered more or less offensive depending on the tone of the delivery and the character or personality who uses the terms
⚫️Where the content is to be found in the television and radio schedules or online
The quality of challenging material, which includes strong language, is a significant factor in determining its acceptability or unacceptability to audiences. Strong language can be acceptable when authentic or used for clear purpose or effect within a programme, but audiences dislike careless use which has no editorial purpose. [Emphasis added]
Anyone offended by such swearing would also be offended by Ned Flanders’ swear substitutes. As this Christian group mentions:
God would prefer that instead of using disguised swear words, we would use words of praise, encouragement, thankfulness and any words that would lift up the name of Christ and would be helpful and beneficial to the hearers… so that there is no doubt to the hearers Who we belong to and what His holy kingdom is like. [Source]
Such people would probably not be watching a show where Zoe gets all excited about Ian’s magic wand. That aside, please BBC do not be concerned enough about this to apologise or introduce a blasphemy law as family viewing.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog