BBC defends 'Silent Witness' violence after complaints
Published Apr 27 2012, 17:30 BST | By Andrew Laughlin
The BBC has defended the inclusion of violent scenes in BBC One's Silent Witness
, after almost 500 viewers complained about the programme last weekend.
The post-watershed episode of Silent Witness
aired last Sunday and featured prison officer Daniel Kessler, played by Lee Gregory
, savagely beating and then sodomising an inmate on the floor of a toilet block.
Around 6.1m people watched the episode on April 22 while around 4.7m tuned in for the second part on the following day. Both episodes carried a warning about their violent and potentially upsetting scenes.
But 483 people have complained to the BBC about the "too violent" nature of the sex attack scene. Media regulator Ofcom has received a further 35 complaints, and viewers also used online message boards to express their discontent.
Writing on the Digital Spy forums
on April 23, one viewer said: "Last night's sodomising incident was a bit too graphic for me."
Another wrote: "I love Silent Witness
and am not shy to a nice gritty drama...but i have to say that scene in the toilet with the guy being violently sodomized by the dodgy policeman went too far.
"It's been playing on my mind since i watched it and that doesn't ever happen to me..and I watch all sorts of hard dramas etc..
"[I am] surprised that they put it in really as we were already told about the incident when Harry saw the photos. That was enough to get the point across. quite disturbing indeed."
Another viewer added: "I don't want this series to turn into one of those dreadful torture porn dramas we see elsewhere on television."
In a statement, the BBC said that it takes its responsibility to the audience "extremely seriously" and always tries to "strike the right balance between compelling drama without being unnecessarily graphic".
"Towards the end of the first episode we had established that DI Bridges and Officer Kessler had previously worked together and that he was the one very much in control," said the corporation.
"The final scene was not an attempt to gratuitously shock the audience; it was rooted in character and research, showing just what DI Bridges was prepared to do for her colleague for the sake of her family, as well as the brutality that Kessler was capable of.
"We acknowledge that certain scenes may have been challenging, but we filmed and presented them in such a way as to make sure that although as a viewer the implication was there, it was never actually shown."
The BBC added that Silent Witness
, now into its 15th series, is well known for its "general tone and content".
"It's fair to say the show is known for tackling challenging stories and exploring adult themes and we don't feel the content of these episodes would have gone beyond viewer's expectations," the corporation said.
"As well as scheduling the series after the 9pm watershed, we made sure the content was widely publicised and gave a warning before both episodes."