Andrew Marr Show, BBC
Last year it was Joe Lycett being reported to the police for an “offensive” joke about a “giant donkey d***”, now it seems this year’s case of a comedian having to deal with an overly sensitive individual is Dawn French, who was reported to the advertising watchdog for a newspaper ad promoting her new comedy tour, ‘Dawn French Is A Huge T***”.
In a description for the show justifying the use of strong language, French said it’s named as such because “unfortunately, it’s horribly accurate”.
“There have been far too many times I have made stupid mistakes or misunderstood something vital or jumped the gun in a spectacular display of t***tery.
“I thought I might tell some of these buttock-clenching embarrassing stories to give the audience a peek behind the scenes of my work life,” she said.
Sounds like fun, but two individuals didn’t see it that way when they spotted an advert for the tour in The Sunday Times’ culture magazine back in December, complete with the word “t***” in all its glory.
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They decided to complain to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the regulator of UK adverts, and questioned whether the ad “was likely to cause serious or widespread offence”.
Phil McIntyre Live Ltd, the tour’s promoter, told the ASA it was “regrettable” that the ad had “caused offence to the people who complained”.
“[They said] that the title of the show was humorous, and aimed any offence at Dawn French herself. While the show itself was funny, it also had a life-affirming message.
“They said that the title of the show was important and that they would not advertise in media or locations that would not allow them to use the full title or required them to blank out certain letters.
“They explained that the term in question was one that was used by many people, including Dawn French, in their everyday lives,” the ruling reads.
The Sunday Times, meanwhile, confirmed no complaints had been made to them about the ad, and that they had no comment to make about the ASA’s investigation.
In its decision, the ASA wrote: “[We] considered the word t*** had the potential to cause offence to audiences. We acknowledged that the word was the title of Dawn French’s live tour and that was the context in which it was used.
“We considered that most readers would likely be aware of who Dawn French was and her style of comedy, and that the use of the word would be understood by readers to be self-deprecating and tongue in cheek, and it was not, for example, used in a sexual context.
“We understood that the word t*** written in full was in line with the editorial style of The Sunday Times and that the word reflected similar use of language in the editorial sections of the newspaper where the word had been used in full, without any asterisks.
“Given the above, we therefore concluded that whilst some readers may have found the ad distasteful, it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to its audience, and concluded that it did not breach the [advertising] code.”
Quite right, though we’ll never not chuckle at an otherwise serious and professional organisation being made to say a silly or naughty word. Lycett managed to get “I’ve got a smelly bum bum” into parliamentary records when he appeared in front of a Lords committee last year.
French’s representatives have been approached by indy100 for comment.
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