Springer Offers £10 Tickets to BBC's Bible BashersDate: 10 January 2005
In response to ongoing religious protests about BBC Two’s Saturday night recording of Jerry Springer - The Opera (See News, 5 Jan 2005), producers of the stage show are this week inviting Christians to see the show live in the West End. On presentation of a Bible at the Cambridge Theatre box office, top-price tickets (normally up to £50) will be made available for just £10.
A spokeswoman for producers at Avalon said the gesture was not “tongue in cheek”, but a recognition that the majority of demonstrators did not have first-hand knowledge of the musical they’re denouncing. “We want to encourage Christians and other religious groups to come and see the show to make up their own minds,” she told Whatsonstage.com.
Security has also been stepped up at the theatre, where protestors gathered on Saturday night. Larger demonstrations were held at BBC headquarters, where many symbolically burned their TV licenses as the un-edited broadcast of Jerry Springer began at 10.00pm. According to various newspapers, several BBC executives have been offered police protection following threats of physical violence and even death. BBC Two controller Roly Keating and his family are reportedly now in hiding.
The BBC received a phenomenal 45,000 complaints prior to Saturday’s programme, although a sizeable number – including theatregoers from the Whatsonstage.com Discussion Forum - also contacted the corporation in support. In addition, regulators at Ofcom logged an unprecedented 7,000 pre-transmission complaints. The previous record for complaints about a TV broadcast was for The Last Temptation of Christ in 1994.
As of mid-day today (Monday 10 January), the BBC had received 1,400 post-transmission calls, of which 40% were positive. A spokesperson there said that represented “an unusually large number of calls in support of a programme”.
In addition to excessive swearing, protestors have argued that Jerry Springer was too offensive for broadcast because of its “blasphemous” depictions of God, Jesus and the Virgin Mary. The BBC is now facing legal action from the group Christian Voice, which was earlier ordered to remove from its website the personal address details of BBC executives.
- by Terri Paddock