consideration, Stuart Murphy, Controller of BBC THREE, has taken the
difficult decision not to transmit the animation series Popetown on
The decision has been supported by Jana Bennett, Director of
Television, and follows consultation with the Controller of Editorial
Policy, Stephen Whittle and Head of Religion and Ethics, Alan Bookbinder.
Representations had also been made from various groups
who feared from the basic premise of the comedy series, which is set
in a fictional Vatican, that it would cause offence to practising Catholics.
Stuart Murphy said: "Popetown was a challenging
project for BBC THREE to undertake.
"After a lot of consideration and consultation,
balancing the creative risk with the potential offence to some parts
of the audience, we have decided not to transmit the programme.
"Despite all of the creative
energy that has gone into this project and the best efforts of everyone
involved, the comic impact of the delivered series does not outweigh
the potential offence it will cause.
"It has been an extremely
difficult and complex decision to make. There is a fine judgement line
in comedy between the scurrilously funny and the offensive.
"I knew when we developed the series that there
was risk involved but unfortunately, once we saw the finished series,
it became clear that the programme fell on the wrong side of that line."
Jana Bennett says: "I'm sorry that this programme
will not be coming to the screen, but I think the decision is the right
"Risk taking, however, is a key part of the role
of BBC THREE, and Stuart and the channel will continue to break new
ground in the notoriously difficult area of comedy.
"BBC THREE is an evolving channel and in its short
life has already had real success in breaking strong and distinctive
new comedy, such as Monkey Dust, Nighty Night and Little Britain."
Alan Marke, Managing Director, Channel X, said: "I
am incredibly disappointed about this decision as I am very proud of
this project and all the talent involved.
"But I understand the world has changed since the
series was originally commissioned and sympathise with the difficult
decision the BBC has had to make."
Popetown is a ten-part animated comedy series which
was commissioned from independent television company Channel X in association
with producer Phil Ox from French production company Moi J'Aime La Television.
The BBC is looking at ways of recouping at least some
of the costs of the series through broadcast and video sales with Channel
X and BBC Worldwide.
Channel X, who co-produced the Bafta award-winning series Shooting Stars,
has previously made Stupid Punts and co-produced Catterick for BBC THREE.
BBC Entertainment is actively working with Channel X
on a number of other projects.