Benidorm under fire as over 100 viewers complain about 'highly offensive' joke

ITV’s popular comedy Benidorm has come under scrutiny after it made an ill-advised ‘joke’ about people with cleft lip and palate.

More than 100 outraged viewers have complained to Ofcom about the remark, which aired on the final episode of the ninth series last Wednesday [May 3rd].

Benidorm has come under fire.
Benidorm has come under fire.

In the offending scene, Danny Tetley, who is a popular entertainer that was born with a cleft palate, plays himself and gets on stage to perform a song only for Sherrie Hewson’s character, Joyce Temple-Savage, to describe him as “having the voice of a 13-year-old girl and a face like a dropped pie”.

Ofcom have since received 118 complaints about the quip.

The Cleft Lip And Palate Association, a charity that supports people affected by the condition, penned a poignant open letter to ITV after the episode aired, saying of the “ignorant” comment: “Looking or sounding different is difficult enough without truly ugly comments like this making things harder.

Danny Tetley played himself in the episode.
Danny Tetley played himself in the episode.

“As a scripted show, it’s almost unbelievable that this line made it through to the final cut of Benidorm without anyone taking issue. Unbelievable, and unacceptable.

“We wonder – what, precisely, did this insult add to the storyline that made it so essential? When is it ever necessary to insult someone about a condition they were born with, or any kind of visible difference?

“Would the same words be used to describe a newborn baby with a cleft, or would this cross a line?”

Carol Vorderman’s brother Anton, right, was born with a cleft palate.
Carol Vorderman’s brother Anton, right, was born with a cleft palate.

TV star Carol Voderman supported the cause, tweeting a link to the letter and writing: “I am patron of CLAPA. My brother Anton was born with a severe cleft lip and palate. I have witnessed abuse of those with cleft, therefore I wholeheartedly endorse this open letter to @itv.”

An ITV spokesman did not acknowledge the backlash, simply saying in a statement: “Danny is a very talented performer and hugely popular on the circuit. We were thrilled to have him on the show.”

Ofcom will assess the complaints and then decide whether they need to take any further action.

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