Entertainment & Arts

Britain's Got Talent: Ofcom censures burlesque nudity

Scarlet performs on Britain's Got More Talent
Image caption Scarlet, who also performs under the name Charlie Knight, got through to the next round

A burlesque performance on Britain's Got More Talent, which ended with several pixellated shots of a dancer's bottom, has been found in breach of broadcasting guidelines.

The talent show screened an audition by a dancer called Scarlet before the watershed on 13 April 2013.

ITV said efforts had been made to obscure "any nudity or partial nudity".

But the sequence was deemed unsuitable for children by broadcasting watchdog Ofcom.


Scarlet's audition was shown on ITV 2, in a companion episode to Britain's Got Talent, in which amateur performers compete for a place in the Royal Variety Performance.

The dancer was first pictured backstage, where she refused to speak to host Stephen Mulhern, explaining she was resting her voice due to pneumonia.

After taking to the stage, however, she sang the Disney song The Bare Necessities before asking the audience: "Have I given you a clue, ladies and gentlemen?"

The camera cut to Mulhern holding up a sign saying "Get 'Em Off" as Scarlet removed her gloves, turned her back to the audience and unzipped her dress.

According to the Ofcom report, the next eight seconds consisted of "a two second mid shot of her wriggling her bottom out of the dress; a one second close up of her bottom; a two second long to mid zoom showing Scarlet in wide shot with her naked bottom to the audience; a two second mid shot of Scarlet shaking her naked bottom to the audience; and a later one second shot of Scarlet shaking her naked bottom to the audience".

Image caption Host Stephen Mulhern made the nature of the act clear to viewers

One person contacted Ofcom to complain about the striptease, after which it contacted ITV for an explanation.

The broadcaster said that "while some viewers may find any burlesque performance unsuitable for children simply by virtue of the 'sexualised' nature of burlesque itself, Britain's Got Talent has featured a number of similar acts over the years".

It therefore "did not consider that this performance would have exceeded the likely expectations of the vast majority of the audience".

ITV added that the segment had been "carefully edited" and contained "saucy" humour, "rather than being overtly erotic".

However, it agreed that "not all parents will consider acts of this nature to be appropriate" and said it "regretted any offence caused".

Ofcom noted that it had previously warned ITV about another burlesque performance on Britain's Got Talent which was on "the margins of acceptability".

"Ofcom considered in this latest broadcast that the nudity was more evident than the previous case due to the frequency and close-up nature of some of the images of the performer's naked buttocks," the report added.

"While we noted the nudity was pixellated, Ofcom disagreed with ITV and considered it was of limited effectiveness and did not sufficiently obscure the performer's naked buttocks."

Ofcom added that daytime repeats of the programme made it even more likely that children might see the performance.

It ruled that the sequence "would have exceeded the likely expectations of the audience, and especially parents" and had not been appropriately scheduled.

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