Fireman Sam episode pulled amid Koran row

Image source, Mattel
Image caption,
Mattel said the page (centre) was "intended to show illegible text"

An episode of Fireman Sam in which one character appears to tread on a page from the Koran has been withdrawn.

A scene in the children's programme shows a fireman slipping on a pile of papers - and as they fly into the air a page from the Koran is "briefly depicted", production firm Mattel said.

The episode was first broadcast in October 2014 on Channel 5 but the "error" has only recently been spotted.

Mattel apologised and said it did not believe it was done "maliciously".

Channel 5, which broadcasts Fireman Sam, has removed the episode from its streaming website.

Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, tweeted: "I have no idea what went through the producers's minds when they thought this was a good idea #baffled".

He also said he had identified the page from the Koran as "Surah Mulk (67), verses 13-26".

'Never again'

A Mattel spokeswoman said: "It's just an unfortunate incident where someone from the production company thought they were just putting in random text.

"We have no reason to believe it was done maliciously."

In a statement, Mattel said: "The page was intended to show illegible text and we deeply regret this error.

"We sincerely apologise for any distress or offence it may have caused."

It said it would "no longer be working with the animation studio responsible", and would take "immediate action to remove this episode from circulation".

"We are reviewing our content production procedures to ensure this never happens again," it added.

BBC complaints

Fireman Sam began in the 1980s, being broadcast in Welsh on S4C and in English on the BBC.

It aired on the BBC until 2008, when a new version of the show - which uses computer-generated imagery (CGI) rather than stop-motion animation - began on Channel 5.

The episode featuring the page from the Koran has never been broadcast by the BBC, but BBC News understands the corporation has received more than 1,000 complaints about it.

The BBC press office said it did not comment on complaints.

By Patrick Evans, BBC social news and user-generated content hub