The Skimmer

A foul Christmas special

A foul Christmas special
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The Catherine Tate Show's Christmas Day Special managed over 20 uses of the F-word in the first five minutes, which must be something of a record, even by today's debased standards of modern entertainment.


True, the show was broadcast at 10.30pm, safely after the 9pm watershed when more adult material is shown, but this was on BBC1 on Christmas Day at a time when millions of families were likely to be watching together after the rigours of the day. We suspect many parents with youngish families must have grabbed the zapper and embarrassingly switched to something more appropriate.


Is the constant repetition of the F-word in the first sketch of a popular comedy show on Christmas Day really the BBC's idea of family programming? What editorial vetting procedures did it undergo? And who was responsible for the final decision?


As usual in the opaque world of BBC decision-taking, it is not clear who is responsible and none of these questions is likely to be answered. BBC1 has been rudderless since Peter Fincham was forced out over the shambles surrounding the channel's documentary about the Queen and the recent appointment of Channel Five's Jay Hunt to replace him. 


It would interesting to know if Ms Hunt approves of this sort of language on the BBC's most watched channel on Christmas Day; if she does, then millions will know to avoid BBC1 next Christmas. It would be even more interesting to know if the BBC's Director-General, Mark Thompson, thinks it was appropriate. It is unlikely, however, that either he -- or anybody else -- will be held to account, such is the way the BBC operates.


Those who switched away because of Tate's foul language, by the way, will be reassured to know that they missed nothing. What was once a fresh, even innovative comedy sketch show has become hackneyed and predictable, with characters that have long passed their chuckle-date -- which probably explains why one was even killed off in the Christmas special. Probably best now to kill the whole show.

In any case, Ms Tate is the unlikely new female sidekick of Dr Who in the new series starting in early 2008. She will be the oldest and least glamorous of all the Doctor's companions; but at least we can be sure her language will be more restrained -- even the Beeb won't have a foul-mouthed Dr Who!