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Fireman Sam Quran scandal leads to BBC receiving 1000 complaints despite airing on Channel 5

Published 28/07/2016

HIT Entertainment, which produced Fireman Sam, apologised 'unreservedly' for the mistake
HIT Entertainment, which produced Fireman Sam, apologised 'unreservedly' for the mistake

Fireman Sam featured one of its main characters treading on the Quran, embroiling Channel 5 in an unlikely Islamophobia row which a spokesperson dismissed as an “unfortunate incident”.

However, despite it being Channel 5 who aired the HIT Entertainment production, the BBC has received over 1,000 complaints about the incident, which occurred in an episode titled “Troubled Waters”.

Elvis the fireman slips on pages of the Quran
Elvis the fireman slips on pages of the Quran

According to The Guardian, the wrong broadcaster was receiving the complaints due to misinformation on a complaints website. However, the BBC told the publication they were ‘more than happy’ to forward the complaints to Channel 5’s owner Viacom and HIT Entertainment.

Meanwhile, a BBC spokesperson told The Independent they don't comment on complaints, adding: "but as you’re aware, Fireman Sam hasn’t been broadcast on the BBC for many years."

The controversial episode was first broadcast in October 2014 and shows Elvis the fireman slip on a pile of papers, sending them flying into the air, “briefly depicting” a page from Islam’s main religious book.

HIT Entertainment has since insisted that the Quran reference was not “malicious” but will “no longer be working with the animation studio responsible”.

“The page was intended to show illegible text and we deeply regret this error,” a statement on its website read. “We sincerely apologise for any distress or offence it may have caused.”

The firm, which is also behind Pingu, Thomas and Tank Engine and Bob the Builder, has taken “immediate action” to remove the episode from streaming sites and will be “reviewing content production procedures” to ensure it never happens again.

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