Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

BBC defends quiz's Thatcher quips

The death of Baroness Thatcher was discussed on satirical BBC show Have I Got News For You

The BBC has defended its satirical quiz show Have I Got News For You after some viewers complained about comments made about the late Baroness Thatcher.

The show - broadcast on Friday - included a number of references to the former prime minister with a lengthy section discussing her death.

The BBC said it would have been impossible to ignore her death as the programme covers the biggest stories of the week, and the panellists did not directly make fun of Baroness Thatcher.

In a posting on the BBC's complaints website, the corporation said it had heard from viewers who were "disappointed" by the comments made about her. The BBC One show has drawn 107 complaints so far.

During the show guest Ken Livingstone joked about how during her time in office she had axed the Greater London Council, of which he had been the leader. He said: "I haven't had my invite to the funeral yet so I haven't been able to decline it.

"It would be a tad hypocritical given she abolished me, to turn up to her funeral."

A number of other gags were aimed at her cabinet and her son Mark.

Responding to the complaints, the BBC said: "Given the enormous amount of TV and newspaper comment on the life and achievements of Lady Thatcher, it was impossible to ignore the story.

"The very fact that the programme covered the death of Lady Thatcher was always going to infuriate some viewers, however they should know what to expect from the show after 23 years.

"If you look closely at the content of the show you will see that at no point did we make fun of Lady Thatcher herself or put forward a critique of her record - everything was based around the reaction to her death by other politicians and public figures, and the row over the cost of the funeral."

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