Wednesday, 24 August 2011


Buenos dias , senores. I didn't actually plan to post at all while I'm in sunny Spain, but checking in to check my emails this afternoon on Yahoo I noticed a tag for a story that caught my eye.

Back in January David walliams - of Little Britain fame - presented a programme on Channel 4 I believe called something like Awfully Good. On the show he ridiculed Simon Curtis for his Mastermind speciaist round on Jim Carrey. Simon complained to Ofcom saying, understandably, that the show had made him out to be a person of low intelligence - which he is most definitely not, and poured scorn and derision on him. I'll come clean, I never saw the show, but the verbatim reports of David Walliams' voiceover seem to show that this is no exaggeration.

The story on Yahoo was that Ofcom have rejected the complaint. According to the report , the complaint was rejected because viewers would realise that anyone smart enough to get on the programme in the first place was obviously very intelligent.

Hmm. Would that it were so.Let me give you an example. How much of a spalsh did it make last year when Jesse Honey produced a magnificent record setting specialist round of 23 ? Compare this, then, with the amount of column inches, and the tone of the comments in the media, and no doubt the comments which many of you will have heard from various people at the time, which were generated when Kajen Thuraaisingham set the lowest score to date. Precious few people were crediting him with the obvious ability and intelligence he has in order to have got onto the show in the frst place. Yes, we take vicarious pleasure in others' achievements in this country, but nothing like as much as the schadenfreude we derive from others' small misfortunes.

As I mentioned earlier, I didn't see David Walliams' show, so I don't know, but somehow I doubt very much that he mentioned it was a semi final , and that Simon had already performed extremely well winning his first round show.

OK, I do know that there is another side to the coin. I do know that you might well say - well, nobody forces me, or Simon, or anyone else to go on these shows, and so if you do so, then you have to take what's coming to you, and in a way I do know where you're coming from. I've had plenty of people, in the nicest possible way, point out how dire my own performance on Millionaire was all those years ago. Quite right too - I put my hands up to that one, and can't argue. However if anyone uses that one performance to suggest that I am a terrible quizzer, or , heaven help us, stupid , uneducated, unintelligent - choose your own adjective here - based on that one performance, then that is something I will take issue with.

So Simon, you have my sympathy. I do understand why you launched your complaint. I admit that I only have the sentence or so that the Yahoo report devoted to the ruling to go on, but I think its a shame that Ofcom didn't at least say that while they could not uphold your complaint, they could understand the genuine point behind it.


Electric Dragon said...

The full judgement can be found at (page 56)

"Ofcom recognised that these comments carried the potential to be offensive and insulting to Mr Curtis. However, Ofcom took the view that it would have been clear to viewers from the beginning of the programme that Mr Walliams (himself best known as a comedian) intended to provide humorous and light-hearted opinion and comment on examples of past television clips. Ofcom considered that it would have been clear to viewers that all Mr Walliams' comments were made in this manner, and were not intended in any material way to be a serious examination of Mr Curtis' character, intelligence or competence."

Jack said...

To be honest, Dave, if you go on any TV show, you are opening yourself up to criticism from all sides. For example, the way some people on Facebook ridicule contestants on DOND is shocking.

When Mr Curtis's run was played on Would I Lie To You?, Frankie Boyle wondered why John Humphrys didn't tell Mr Curtis how useless he was and send him off. But then, that's Frankie Boyle; I don't really find his humour amusing really.

I've seen Mr Curtis's subject round; he did nothing wrong, he was just unlucky with the questions.