Laurence Fox, Vanessa Feltz and Love Island: Ofcom reveals most complained-about TV moments of 2023

Ofcom has unveiled the 10 most complained-about TV moments of 2023 – and Laurence Fox, Vanessa Feltz and Love Island are among the people and shows that most frustrated viewers.

This year, more than 67,000 complaints were made to the broadcasting watchdog about around 9,500 different TV events. This is more than double the number of complaints received in 2022.

Among the most complained-about moments are political interviews as well as comments many deemed offensive.

One of the top 10 came just this week, regarding comments made by Vanessa Feltz about people living with coeliac disease.

Below, you can read the top 10 most-complained about TV moments of 2023, and Ofcom’s verdicts on each.

1. Dan Wootton Tonight, GB News, 26 September 2023

Number of complaints: 8,867

Status: Ongoing

Complaints about Wootton’s GB News show related to a September interview with the actor and right-wing politician Laurence Fox. In the segment, Fox took aim at politician journalist Ava Evans, calling her a “little woman”.

“Show me a single self-respecting man that would like to climb into bed with that woman ever, ever, who wasn’t an incel,” Fox said, with his misogynistic comments prompting widespread criticism.

Ofcom’s investigation of this programme under their rules on offence is ongoing.

2. King Charles III: The Coronation, ITV1, 6 May 2023

Number of complaints: 8,421

Status: Not pursuing

While the coverage of King Charles’s coronation on ITV coronation generated a number of complaints, the majority stemmed from comments made by Bridgerton star Adjoa Andoh. As the royal family appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, the actor said: “We have gone from the rich diversity of the Abbey to a terribly white balcony.”

Ofcom concluded that the comment was a “personal observation” which was part of a wide-ranging panel discussion touching on other diversity-related topics, and containing a range of viewpoints. The decision not to pursue the complaints also took into account the right to freedom of expression.

3. Good Morning Britain, ITV1, 17 October 2023

Number of complaints: 2,391

Status: Not pursuing further after assessment

Good Morning Britain host Richard Madeley was widely criticised in October after asking MP Layla Moran – who is of Palestinian descent – if she was aware in advance of Hamas’s terrorist attack on Israel on 7 October.

Ofcom considered that Madeley’s live, unscripted remarks were potentially offensive. However, taking the entire interview into account, it considered the question sought to explore “whether civilians were aware of a potential escalation in hostilities, rather than suggesting that Moran or her family were aware of specific plans for the Hamas attack on 7 October 2023”.

Given Moran’s own surprise at the scale of the attack, Ofcom decided not to pursue further.

4. Jeremy Vine, Channel 5, 13 March 2023

An episode of Vine’s show received thousands of complaints (Channel 5)
An episode of Vine’s show received thousands of complaints (Channel 5)

Number of complaints: 2,302

Status: Not pursuing

Jeremy Vine’s Channel 5 show received a number of complaints in March following a debate about the junior doctors’ pay dispute. While discussing junior doctors in the NHS taking strike action over pay, broadcaster Lin Mei said that a 35 per cent pay rise wasn’t “achievable or doable” and would open the “floodgates”.

Many viewers complained about “errors” made by the panellists on the shows. Ofcom said that, while it recognised that some references about progression timelines and corresponding pay-scales were not strictly accurate, “we do not consider that the errors were sufficient to have materially misled viewers so as to cause harm”.

5. Breakfast with Kay Burley, Sky News, 23 November 2023

Number of complaints: 1,880

Status: Not pursuing further after assessment

Complaints were made about the line of questioning by Kay Burley on Sky News during an interview with Israeli spokesperson, Eylon Levy. In the interview, which came hours after Israel and Palestine agreed to a temporary ceasefire, Burley asked Levy what he thought of a claim – previously made by a hostage negotiator – that Israel did not value Palestinian lives as highly as Israeli ones.

6. Lee Anderson’s Real World, GB News, 29 September 2023

Number of complaints: 1,697

Status: Assessment found did not break Ofcom rules

Tory MP Lee Anderson’s interview with then-home secretary Suella Braverman on GB News sparked uproar on social media over the appropriateness of Braverman being grilled by her Conservative colleague.

Ofcom published its assessment of this programme, which concluded that it included an appropriately wide range of “significant views” on immigration and border control, which it said were given due weight.

7. Breakfast with Kay Burley, Sky News, 10 October 2023

Number of complaints: 1,640 complaints

Status: Ongoing

In October, Sky News admitted that presenter Burley “gave a potentially misleading representation” of comments made by the Palestinian ambassador to the UK, Dr Husam Zomlot, in the wake of the 7 October attack by Hamas. Burley claimed that Zomlot had said that Israel “had it coming”.

Ofcom is assessing the complaints, before deciding whether or not to investigate.

8. Naked Education, Channel 4, 4 April 2023

Number of complaints: 1,285 complaints

Status: Not pursuing

In the spring, Channel 4 came under fire for its new Naked Attraction spin-off Naked Education. The show saw teenagers learning about sex and bodies, before being exposed to nude adults.

Many of the complaints to Ofcom concerned the airing of nudity before the watershed. However, the watchdog argued that Naked Education had a “clear educational focus, and the young participants reflected positively on their involvement”.

It added that warnings were made to the audience before the programme aired, and that Channel 4 provided information to Ofcom about the protections it had in place for the welfare and dignity of participants aged under 18.

9. This Morning, ITV, 18 December 2023

Number of complaints: 1,092 complaints

Status: Ongoing

More than 1,000 complaints were made to Ofcom just this week over comments made by Vanessa Feltz about coeliac disease. After a caller asked for advice about dealing with a household where no items containing gluten are allowed in, due to one family member having coeliac disease, Feltz said that the demands were “completely unreasonable.” “She’s treating coeliac disease as if it’s a kind of fatal, potentially fatal peanut allergy and that they can’t have anything with gluten in the house, which is completely unreasonable,” she said.

Ofcom is assessing the complaints before deciding whether to investigate.

10. Love Island, ITV 2, 9 July 2023

Number of complaints: 992

Status: Not pursuing

Love Island is a show many people love to complain about, with the majority of complaints this summer pertaining to the “bullying” of contestant Scott van-der-Sluis. Other complaints about the series addressed alleged bullying, homophobia and racism.

Ofcom said that, while “emotionally charged or confrontational scenes can upset some viewers”, the format was well-established and negative behaviour wasn’t shown in a positive light.

It added: “Viewers also complained about a contestant being voted off and returning to the programme, but this was an editorial decision for the broadcaster.”