Piers Morgan leads Ofcom’s list of most complained about shows of all time

Piers Morgan walks out of GMB after criticism from Alex Beresford

piers morgan, ofcom, meghan markle, jerry springer, piers morgan leads ofcom’s list of most complained about shows of all time

Piers Morgan features among Ofcom’s newly released list of the most complained about TV shows ever.

The UK broadcaster watchdog has published its first ever all-encompassing list of the most complained about TV shows of all time to commemorate its 500th monthly bulletin.

Morgan’s 2021 Good Morning Britain rant, during which he said he did not believe Meghan Markle’s statement that she had felt suicidal over her experience with the royal family, attracted nearly 60,000 complaints at the time and led to his exit from the programme.

Three years later, the incident still sits at the top of the Ofcom list.

Another name to appear in the Top 10 was the talk show host Jerry Springer – although not by any fault of his own. In ninth place was Jerry Springer the Opera in 2005, which garnered nearly 9,000 complaints.

Ofcom writes that it is the “first time we had seen high columns of standards complaints” and “the first large scale internet campaign to Ofcom on any broadcasting issue”.

The BBC Two broadcast of the musical, which won four Laurence Olivier awards and was written by Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee, featured extensive profanity, and surreal scenes, including tap-dancing Ku Klux Klan members.

Its irreverent depiction of religious figures was condemned by viewers, with the organisation Christian Voice leading street protests against the screening at nine BBC offices across the UK.

piers morgan, ofcom, meghan markle, jerry springer, piers morgan leads ofcom’s list of most complained about shows of all time
(REUTERS)

Both the Springer musical and Morgan’s ITV rant, however, were found to be in breach of Ofcom’s code. In September 2021, a ruling found that Morgan is “entitled entitled to say he disbelieved the Duke and Duchess of Sussex”.

There were only two breaches in the Top 10. One was a 2007 episode of Celebrity Big Brother, in which racism directed at Indian star Shila Shetty drew 45,000 complaints.

piers morgan, ofcom, meghan markle, jerry springer, piers morgan leads ofcom’s list of most complained about shows of all time

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In the fifth series of the British reality show, contestants Jade Goody, Jackiey Budden, Danielle Lloyd and Jo O’Meara made comments regarding the Bollywood star Shetty.

piers morgan, ofcom, meghan markle, jerry springer, piers morgan leads ofcom’s list of most complained about shows of all time
(Reuters)

The other incident found to be in breach of Ofcom rules was right-wing commentator Laurence Fox’s hugely misogynistic rant on Dan Wootten Tonight on GB News.

Ofcom ruled that Fox’s “misogynistic” comments about female journalist Ava Evans on Wootton’s GB News show broke broadcasting rules that protect “viewers from offensive content”.

The on-air interaction led to Fox being fired from GB news. Wootton – who was criticised for failing to stop Fox from making the vile on-air comments – departed several weeks later.

piers morgan, ofcom, meghan markle, jerry springer, piers morgan leads ofcom’s list of most complained about shows of all time
(PA Wire)

Elsewhere on the Top 10 list were Love Island, Britain’s Got Talent, and King Charles III: The Coronation.

In June 2024, Ofcom ruled out an investigation into ITV’s coverage of the coronation after nearly 9,000 viewers complained about comments made by Bridgerton star Adjoa Andoh who said the royal family was looking “terribly white” as they ascended to the Buckingham Palace balcony.

“We’ve gone from the rich diversity of the [Westminster] Abbey to a terribly white balcony. I’m very struck by that,” she told ITV hosts Julie Etchingham and Tom Bradby.

piers morgan, ofcom, meghan markle, jerry springer, piers morgan leads ofcom’s list of most complained about shows of all time
Britain BAFTA Nominees Party Arrivals (Invision)

The report from Ofcom also revealed that it has collected more than £15m in fines from broadcasters who have broken the rules of its code since the bulletin was launched in 2004.

Ofcom has assessed 770,000 complaints and 156,000 cases. Of the 3,286 investigations it launched, around two-thirds (2,166) were found to be in breach.

In May this year, Ofcom began the procedure to issue GB news with a sanction following a “serious and repeated” breach of its code over a People’s Forum show during which, they said, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was given a “mostly uncontested platform to promote the policies and performance of his government”.

The show, in which Sunak was questioned by a live audience in the context of the forthcoming general election, was criticised as being one-sided and attracted more than 500 Ofcom complaints.

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