David Walliams show cleared over 'Mastermind' clip

Published Aug 22 2011, 13:13 BST  |  By

David Walliams

© PA Images / Ian West

A David Walliams-fronted programme on "awfully good" TV has been cleared by Ofcom after a man complained about the show's mocking of his performance on Mastermind.

Aired on January 4 this year on Channel 4, one-off programme David Walliams' Awfully Good TV recapped television that was "so truly, staggeringly, compellingly bad it becomes awfully good".

The show featured a clip of Simon Curtis participating in Mastermind, including his performance in the specialist subject round, in which he scored just one point.

Introducing the clip, Little Britain star Walliams said: "Sometimes in life, you have to know your limitations… If you're not let's say, very bright, it's probably not a good idea to go on a quiz show that tests your mental agility. And by not very bright, I mean astoundingly thick."

Following transmission of the programme, Curtis complained to Ofcom that he was "treated unjustly or unfairly" in the show. He said that not being good at quizzes "was not an indicator of low intelligence" and also pointed out that he had won £250,000 on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? 18 months earlier.

He also claimed that the producers did not ask his permission to use the footage, drawing comparison with ITV4's Richard Bacon's Beer and Pizza Club, which sought his consent before referring to it.

Channel 4 responded by saying that Walliams's introductory comments "were not a literal assessment of Mr Curtis's general IQ level but a comment about his remarkably poor performance in the context of a subject matter he professed to be his specialist subject".

The broadcaster accepted that Curtis had not directly consented to appear in the programme, but said that he had agreed to appear on Mastermind with the understanding that the footage could subsequently be used in other programmes.

In its latest Broadcast Bulletin, Ofcom decided not to uphold any of the complaints raised by Curtis against David Walliams' Awfully Good TV.

The regulator said that the re-use of Mastermind material "did not result in unfairness towards Mr Curtis as it would have been clear to viewers that the programme was not a serious examination of his character, intelligence or competence".

It said that it was not incumbent on the show to discuss any of Curtis's other television performances, while it also did not need to seek consent to use footage of his Mastermind performance as it had already been aired.

Last month, Sky Living's Psychic Sally: On the Road was rapped by Ofcom for dispensing potentially "life-changing advice" during a psychic reading.

The regulator also criticised the eighth series of Hell's Kitchen USA on ITV2 for the "very strong swearing" of Gordon Ramsay and the show's contestants.