Jo Brand's battery acid joke 'went beyond what was appropriate," rules BBC

Amy West
Contributor
Jo Brand's battery acid joke went too far, backtracks the BBC (In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)

Jo Brand’s joke about throwing battery acid over politicians rather than milkshakes “went way beyond what was appropriate” for a Radio 4 comedy show, the BBC has ruled.

The broadcaster previously defended the comedian’s comments when Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage - who was targeted by a milkshake-wielding protester several weeks earlier - accused her of inciting violence and encouraged police to take action.

Two months later, the corporation has now backtracked as its Executive Complaints Unit [ECU] explains: "Whilst the ECU recognised that the wider message from this episode is an argument for more civility in political discourse, not less, and Ms Brand's contribution is not intended to be taken as face value, the ECU felt that it went beyond what was appropriate for the show.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage had a milkshake thrown over him in Newcastle Upon Tyne in May 2019 (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

"So it was partially upheld against generally accepted standards of BBC output.

“The ECU also noted that in the right context and with the right treatment, there is no subject matter which should be beyond the scope of comedy."

Read more: PM calls upon BBC to explain why Jo Brand battery acid joke was broadcast

The BBC also revealed that it had received 444 complaints about Brand’s controversial remark via media regulator Ofcom.

Jo Brand attends the opening night of Only Fools and Horses The Musical at Theatre Royal Haymarket, 2019. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images for Neil Reading PR )

During her appearance on Heresy in June, Brand said: "I'm thinking, why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?

"I'm not going to do it, it's purely a fantasy. But I think milkshakes are pathetic."

She later half-heartedly apologised for the "somewhat crass and an ill-judged joke.

Read more: Ricky Gervais calls BBC out for hypocritical treatment of Jo Brand and Danny Baker

Amid the initial backlash, the BBC said: “Heresy is a long-running comedy programme where, as the title implies and as our listeners know, panellists often say things which are deliberately provocative but are not intended to be taken seriously.

"Comedy will always push boundaries.”

However, it did remove the statement when the episode was uploaded to its catch-up services.