Entertainment & Arts

Robbie Williams video criticised by pensioners

Graham Norton and Robbie Williams
Image caption Williams was a guest on The Graham Norton Show along with the canine star of Oscar-winning film The Artist, Uggie

Singer Robbie Williams has been criticised by a pensioners group after joking about punching the elderly.

The singer was discussing the video for his number one single Candy as a guest on BBC One's The Graham Norton Show.

The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) has called for Williams to apologise over the video, in which he is seen punching an elderly woman.

The singer's spokesman said Williams did not condone violence and was merely in character for the video.

During Friday night's episode of The Graham Norton Show, host Norton had said of the video: "That's quite a shocking image isn't it?"

Williams then replied: "It is, isn't it. They wanted me to kick a dog and I'm an animal lover, so I was just not having that.

"Then they said 'punch a pensioner' and I was like, 'Yeah, I'm in"."

NPC general secretary Dot Gibson said: "Celebrities should think twice before making ageist comments which seem to imply that pensioners should be treated in a degrading way."

Gibson added: "Elder abuse is a serious issue and needs to be tackled rather than seen as a bit of a joke.

"We need to be uniting the generations, not suggesting that they are different. Pensioners are just young people who grew older."

The organisation's national officer, Neil Duncan-Jordan said they had received complaints from a number of their members about the comment, which is why they had decided to respond.

"There are certain things now which are so important and have ridden up the political agenda, and this needs to be taken seriously," said Duncan-Jordan.

"It's all about the context in which it was used; the phrase was probably ironic, but it just gives the wrong impression that animals are to be treated with greater respect than older people."

Image caption Williams turned on Oxford Street's Christmas lights on Monday

However Williams' spokesperson said: "The plot for this particular video did involve some aggressive scenes but they in no way reflect his views on violence in real life."

Television watchdog Ofcom said it had received one complaint over the singer's comments on Norton's chatshow.

A BBC spokeswoman said: "Robbie was a wonderful guest on this week's show and this comment was clearly a joke.

"Fans of The Graham Norton Show know, understand and expect this irreverent type of banter amongst the guests. No offence was intended."

Meanwhile Radio 1 breakfast show host Nick Grimshaw has defended the programme's decision not to put Williams' track Candy on its playlist.

Despite it selling more than 130,000 copies in the UK last week, Grimshaw said Williams did not appeal to his target audience of 15 to 29 year olds.

The breakfast presenter told 5 News: "I don't know if he's now for a Radio 1 audience. To 13 and 14 year olds he's not relevant - they've got One Direction."

He added: "I liked Take That when I was little but I'm not little anymore."

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