Two viewers objected to Jack Whitehall’s opening routine, in which he recounted what took place when he had been introduced to a dwarf at a pop concert. The ECU considered their complaints in the light of the section of the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines on Harm and Offence dealing with portrayal.
The guidelines on portrayal say:
When it is within audience expectations, we may feature a portrayal or stereotype that has been exaggerated for comic effect, but we must be aware that audiences may find casual or purposeless stereotypes to be offensive.
The ECU considered that viewers familiar with Jack Whitehall’s self-deprecating style of comedy would have understood the routine as intended primarily to show up his own inadequacies and failings, and to that extent if fell within audience expectations for stand-up comedy in a late evening slot. The ECU accepted, however, that there were occasions when it seemed a stereotypical view of dwarfism itself, rather than Jack Whitehall’s own ineptitude, was the source of the humour, which took the routine beyond the expectations of audiences in relation to material of this kind.
The finding was reported to the Board of BBC Content and discussed with the programme-makers concerned. The material in question will not be re-broadcast.