BBC defends putting ‘discriminatory language’ warning on The Royle Family

The Royle Family
The Royle Family now carries a warning (Picture: BBC)

The BBC has defended putting a ‘discriminatory language’ warning on The Royle Family.

The sitcom, which ran for three series and five specials between 1998 and 2012, is one of most loved shows in British TV history.

However, in an effort to note the change in what is considered offensive or inappropriate nowadays, a warning has been attached on BBC iPlayer to episode three, series two.

The episode in question sees Jim (Ricky Tomlinson) and Barbara (Sue Townsend) watching Changing Rooms, with Jim referring to Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen as a ‘nancy boy’.

Under an ‘adult humour’ warning, which had already been in place, the episode also carries a tag reading: ‘Contains discriminatory language which some viewers may find offensive.’

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A number of publications hit out at the ‘woke’ decision, and noted a number of tweets from angry fans who called the move ‘pathetic’ and a ‘witch hunt’.

For use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only Undated BBC handout photo of BBC One's The Royle Family, clockwise from bottom Jim (Ricky Tomlinson), Barbara (Sue Johnston), Anthony (Ralph Little), Denise (Caroline Aherne), Dave (Craig Cash) and Nana (Liz Smith) who has died aged 95, a spokeswoman for her family has said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday December 26, 2016. See PA story DEATH Smith. Photo credit should read: Matt Squires/BBC/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: Not for use more than 21 days after issue. You may use this picture without charge only for the purpose of publicising or reporting on current BBC programming, personnel or other BBC output or activity within 21 days of issue. Any use after that time MUST be cleared through BBC Picture Publicity. Please credit the image to the BBC and any named photographer or independent programme maker, as described in the caption.
The BBC noted that language has changed (Picture: Matt Squires/BBC)

However, the BBC accused some of ‘doing their best to misrepresent the facts’.

A statement read: ‘This isn’t about one scene or phrase. Some older programmes – on occasion – contain language that some find offensive, inappropriate or which has fallen out of use. 

‘We make that clear for viewers.’

In the last few years, changes have been made on streaming services to note that some older shows contain language or humour that is considered offensive in the present day.

Disney Plus has prefixed films like The Aristocats and Dumbo with warnings about their content, saying they contain ‘negative stereotypes’, while the classic film Gone With The Wind, which is streaming on HBO Max, is now introduced with an explanation of the historical context.

Meanwhile, Netflix and iPlayer removed Little Britain from their libraries, saying ‘times had changed’ since the show – which sees Matt Lucas and David Walliams in costumes portraying different races – first aired.

The Royle Family, written by Craig Cash and the late Caroline Aherne, centred on a family of couch potatoes in Manchester whose lives revolve around their telly. 

The series, also starring Ralf Little and Sheridan Smith, ran for three original series before returning for a number of hugely successful specials. 

Aherne, who co-wrote the show and played Denise, died in 2016 aged 52. 

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