Belfast Telegraph

Monday 15 September 2014

Dick and Dom food challenge rapped

Dick and Dom's BBC show received complaints

The BBC failed to take "due care" of an 11-year-old girl who was left retching after taking part in an eating challenge on a television show hosted by presenters Dick and Dom, according to communications watchdog Ofcom.

Two people complained after the episode of Dick and Dom's Hoopla! which featured Dick, real name Richard McCourt, encouraging the girl and a boy to drink "vile concoctions" in front of a live audience.

The complainants said the children appeared distressed and complained about a scene showing "the girl vomiting into a bucket".

Ofcom said the girl "appeared to be in some discomfort" during the game, during which she drank a mixture of mayonnaise, spaghetti hoops and tomato soup, and criticised the presenter's approach which it described as "verging on the aggressive".

It said "he repeatedly shouted at, berated and chided the girl and the boy, albeit in a comedic manner, to urge them to eat the various foods they were presented with".

In its defence, the BBC said the presenters were well known for their "anarchic" humour and the audience was "briefed about the nature of the programme".

It also said the girl had volunteered to take part and her mother, who accompanied her, had given her written consent. Both children were given examples of the kind of food they might have to eat and told they could refuse to eat it at any time.

The BBC stated there "was no pressure to participate" and while the girl "did appear to retch... she was not sick". Her mother also told the BBC "she had been very impressed by the care the programme-makers had taken of [her daughter]".

But Ofcom said: "Despite the various measures taken by the BBC, we considered that the broadcaster did not take adequate steps at this stage to ensure that due care was taken over the girl's physical and emotional welfare."

It said it was "extremely concerned... that at no time pre-broadcast did any BBC staff assess or query the potential risk or appropriateness of organising an eating competition for children". It ruled the BBC breached guidelines on generally accepted standards and the welfare of children.

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