From BGT to GMB – The biggest shows slapped with most Ofcom complaints in 2020

2020 has been a year like no other, with Ofcom receiving record complaints about some of the UK’s biggest shows.

Small screen favourites like Good Morning Britain, Britain’s Got Talent and This Morning were swarmed with complaints from angry viewers, as the nation battled against the Covid pandemic.

Throughout the year in telly, the British public took offence to everything from explosive interviews, to pre-watershed violence and scenes of puking.

Below we take a look at the shows that received the biggest onslaught in complaints, with numbers racking up to tens of thousands.

Britain's Got Talent

Britain's Got Talent got a revamp this year, with Ashley Banjo replacing Simon Cowell on the judging panel and the live audience axed from the studio.

Raking in major viewings as usual, the show made headlines on September 5 when legendary dance troupe Diversity performed a powerful routine to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

In the routine, Diversity leader Ashley lay on the floor, while a white dancer placed his foot on his neck.

The move was a tribute to George Floyd, whose murder in May of this year sparked an international outcry, inspiring BLM protests across the globe.

Judges on the show stood in solidarity with the dance, though viewers in their thousands rushed to Ofcom to complain.

Nearing the end of the competition, when comedian Nabil Abdulrashid made reference to the complaints in his stand-up set, BGT received a fresh wave of complaints.

Almost 28,000 people reportedly complained about this year's Britain's Got Talent, beating Good Morning Britain by a long shot.

In a statement, Ofcom announced they would not be investigating the complaints, defending the message and artistic licence behind the dance.

It read: "We carefully considered a large number of complaints about this artistic routine, an area where freedom of expression is particularly important.

"Diversity's performance referred to challenging and potentially controversial subjects, and in our view, its central message was a call for social cohesion and unity.

"Any depictions of violence by the performers were highly stylised and symbolic of recent global events, and there was no explicit reference to any particular political organisation – but rather a message that the lives of Black people matter."

Ashley shared the watchdog's assessment, adding: "Creativity is always a leap of faith.

"All I did what was what felt right and I'd do it 100 times over…Sending love to everyone that stood by us."

Good Morning Britain

Drawing in the ratings during the lockdown, Good Morning Britain also racked up a hefty number of Ofcom complaints throughout the year.

By October, the show had received a whopping 9,000 complaints from viewers, with Piers Morgan at the centre of a number of concerns.

In particular, Piers' April interview with Conservative Health and Social Care Minister Helen Whately received over 3,200 calls, with the presenter being accused of "bullying".

It saw Piers tear into Whately over the number of tests carried out in care homes across the country, quizzing her on the rising death toll.

His interview with Health Secretary Matt Hancock also drew in hundreds of complaints, as did an appearance from MP Victoria Atkins.

When Piers compared the PM, Boris Johnson, to "Worzel Gummidge" – a scarecrow from a kids' TV series – another 390 picked up their phones to vent.

This Morning

Just days into 2020, This Morning was hit by a slew of complaints from angry viewers, when a comment made by a guest sparked outrage.

Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes were hosting the show on January 17, with one segment titled: "Should chemists tell their customers they are fat?"

Things kicked off when a guest, journalist Sam Delaney, referred to pharmacists as "pretend doctors".

The comment caused an outcry online, with Sandra Gidley, President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) telling Pharmacy Business: "The comments made… were extremely disappointing and concerning.

"Pharmacists, including myself, were infuriated by the comments made denigrating a profession which on a daily basis saves people's lives."

Ofcom confirmed the show had received "3,496 complaints about the discussion about pharmacists".

Later in the year, the show was hit by another – albeit significantly smaller – backlash during a travel segment.

According to Manchester Evening News, over 100 viewers complained when travel expert Simon Calder discussed visiting the middle of Wales during the half-term break.

At the time, due to Covid restrictions, both South and North Wales faced lockdowns, leaving viewers unhappy over the prospect of visitors.

Sky News

In August, one Sky News report was met by fury after it filmed a live broadcast of migrants crossing the Channel by sea.

Reporter Ali Fortescue could be seen leaning over the side of the boat, asking the migrants where they were from.

While one migrant asked for the camera to be turned off, another claimed to be from Iran.

The broadcast was slammed by Labour MP Zarah Sultana, who said it reminded her of a "grotesque reality TV show".

"We should ensure people don't drown crossing the Channel, not film them as if it were some grotesque reality TV show," the MP said.

The special received a whopping 840 complaints from viewers, though Sky News defended the broadcast, telling The Sun: "This is a major news story following the government's suggestion that it needs a military response, and we will continue to cover the story in a responsible and human way."

Emmerdale

Emmerdale entertained millions during the lockdown this year, resuming filming before its rival soaps.

However, one remark made in the lockdown special caused a backlash, when Jimmy King "thanked" the deadly virus for suspending his parenting duties.

Fighting a hangover, he emerged downstairs and admitted he was grateful he didn't need to do the school run, saying: "Thank you coronavirus."

Later, a scene between DI Malone and former drug addict Dawn Taylor – in which he tried to force her to take heroin – was on the receiving end of complaints.

Airing pre-watershed, Ofcom confirmed 75 disgruntled fans had got in touch to raise their concerns.

Elsewhere in the soap, a scene of abuse between Vinny Dingle and his estranged dad Paul similarly struck a bum note with viewers.

The deadbeat dad beat his son to the ground in the scrapyard, just minutes into the episode.

Highlighting familial abuse, the powerful scene is part of a long-running storyline on the soap, but it didn't stop 11 callers from contacting Ofcom.

I'm A Celeb

Against the odds, I'm A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! returned to our screens this year, setting up camp on the grounds of Welsh castle.

While the response from viewers was overwhelmingly positive, Ofcom counted a number of complaints from fans in the first week of the competition.

In the series launch, the moment Jordan North chucked up his breakfast bagel on the side of a cliff didn't sit well with certain viewers, and they picked up their phones to complain.

At the time, the watchdog said: "Ofcom has received a total of 79 complaints for last night's I'm a Celebrity….Get Me Out of Here! of which 37 related to scenes of Jordan vomiting and 18 related to non-specific animal welfare."

The antics of the following nights saw another flood of calls, and four days into the competition, Ofcom recorded 426 complaints in total.

By early December, the tally had reached over 1,000 – however, it didn't stop the viewing figures from skyrocketing, with 10.7million fans tuning in to watch the emotional finale.

Coronation Street

Corrie had soap fans on the edge of their seats this year with its storylines, following the jailing of Yasmeen Nazir and the murder of Rick Neelan.

While the soap will always have a place in viewers' hearts, it didn't stop certain fans from complaining when the drama became too much to handle.

In particular, the scenes of abuse from evil Geoff Metcalfe, who subjected his wife Yasmeen to months of terror, sparked an outcry from viewers.

The complaints reached a crescendo in early May, when Yasmeen stabbed Geoff in an act of self-defence, his controlling behaviour hurtling out of control.

Even though Corrie worked with women's aid charities to film the scenes, certain unhappy fans went to the watchdog to complain, resulting in a reported 284 calls.

Later in the year, the soap received more Ofcom complaints when Sarah Platt referred to her estranged hubby Adam Barlow as a "Scottish g*t" in a street brawl.

Ofcom confirmed they'd received 59 complaints over a "discriminative comment" made by Sarah on the soap.

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