Jerry Springer - The Opera
Unless you've been hiding under a stone for the last few days, you can't have missed the uproar over the BBC's decision to televise the hit West-End musical, Jerry Springer - The Opera. Yesterday two protests outside of BBC Television Centre saw Christian groups airing their displeasure by burning their TV licences.
Well despite up to 45,000 complaints the Corporation rightly stood their ground and aired the show with more warnings than I've seen accompanying a television series - the announcer introduced the show with a warning, the show actually started with a warning and the second act commenced with yet another warning (which if you didn't have a clue about the show would have been quite a spoiler). Yet, the complaints are still coming in!
As a public service broadcaster, the BBC has every responsibility to provide suitable content for all of it's viewers, and in a time when UK television is made up mostly of news and reality shows it's somewhat pleasing that they decided to go out on a limb for what would be a minority interest. Indeed, the extra publicity for the show probably boosted the viewing figures far past the figure they'd have reached without the religious uproar. So, in that respect the BBC have done good, and I hope the result isn't one that sees the Corporation take fewer risks in the future. Anyone who was offended by the content of the show, after sitting through all of the warnings, has every right to be ridculed.
However, it just wasn't very good, was it? I'm all for controversial television and dark satire, but as a show Jerry Springer - The Opera was pretty poor. The humour and satire was very basic with little real bite - in fact, the average episode of the Jerry Springer Show at it's peak was far funnier than anything that was broadcast last night.
In terms of controversial musicals, you need to look no further than South Park which is far funnier and biting than anything in the musical last night. As someone who has seen a number of large West-End productions, the actual musical cues were all over the place with some good moments and some bad, but the overall impression was the show was a bit of a mess. I have no doubt that to see it live would be a different ball game and the audience atmosphere must be a huge part of the overall package, but as a television broadcast Jerry Springer - The Opera was lacking.
Still kudos to the Beeb for giving us the opportunity to see it in the face of much criticism from religious loonies and Mary Whitehouse' legacy, Mediawatch - send the BBC your emails of support now!