The ITV comedy has come under fire for a controversial joke.
Offence is a tricky business in comedy. For some comedians, their bread and butter is navigating the thin line between good and bad taste, and making us laugh at things we never thought we could.
But sometimes, those lines are crossed just a little too far. As is the case with ITV’s Benidorm, fans were left feeling offended, as a joke in a recent episode has led to nearly 120 official complaints, with Carol Vorderman backing an open letter to ITV, criticising their choice of words.
On the recent series finale of the long-running resort comedy, Sherrie Hewson‘s character Joyce referred to a singing character with a cleft lip and palate as having “a voice like a thirteen-year-old girl and a face like a dropped pie.”
Though the show has had nine series’ worth of controversial jibes, this is one that particularly got on the wrong side of the viewing public, and provoked disappointed tweets, as well as official comments made to the broadcasting authority, Ofcom.
The number of complaints is estimated to be at somewhere in the region of 118.
The Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA) have responded to the line with an open letter to the channel, arguing that “this kind of language, whatever the intent, has serious real world consequences for people affected by cleft lip and palate.”
And TV personality and former Countdown star Carol has thrown her support behind the association’s words. Her brother Anton was born with the condition, giving her an extra sensitivity to the subject.
Sharing the open letter, she told her followers:
‘I am patron of CLAPA. My brother Anton was born with a severe cleft lip and palate. I have witnessed abuse of those with cleft… therefore, I wholeheartedly endorse this open letter to @itv’.
Danny Tetley, the actor who played the character to whom the joke was directed, hasn’t officially responded. However, he has retweeted some comments from fans, urging viewers to focus on his singing rather than the way he looks.
One tweet reads: ‘You should be praising such shows with artists with any facial disfigurement, its a comedy show, if the artist himself is happy with the script. Praise his amazing singing ability – positive.’
Here’s hoping that Benidorm can go into series 10 without touching any more nerves.