To swear or not to swear
There have been complaints from listeners about swearing during Broadcasting House this weekend from the Latitude Festival in Suffolk. The programme was live and a guest used the F-word. I want to apologise to listeners offended by the use of the word - it was inappropriate at that time of the day and in that context. The guest who used it, Irvine Welsh, apologised on air as soon as he said it and he apologised again to the BH team afterwards.
There is always an element of risk in doing live programmes. The BBC's Editorial Guidelines recognise that judgements about the use of swear words are difficult because they depend on tone and context and there is no consensus about which words are acceptable. Radio 4 is aimed at an adult audience and, unlike television, there is no watershed. In general, I think Radio 4 listeners have a high tolerance for swearing. We had 20 or so complaints in this case. But we attract just as many when we bleep or edit out swearing. Listeners argue we are insulting their intelligence and censoring when we do it.