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Ofcom: Miriam Margolyes’ Boris Johnson comment did not exceed expectations

The actress sparked almost 500 complaints over her remarks on Channel 4 show The Last Leg.

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Miriam Margolyes (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Miriam Margolyes (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Miriam Margolyes (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Miriam Margolyes’ comments about wanting Boris Johnson “to die” will not lead to a formal Ofcom investigation, the TV watchdog has said.

The 79-year-old actress sparked 494 complaints over her remarks on Channel 4 show The Last Leg.

But a spokeswoman for Ofcom said that, following an initial assessment, there would be no further investigation.

“These provocative comments had clear potential to offend viewers,” Ofcom said.

“But we also considered the audience’s likely expectations of Miriam Margolyes, a comic actor known for her forthright views, and of this live, late-night satirical comedy show.

“We also took into account that Ms Margolyes immediately qualified her comments, and viewers were warned in advance about the programme’s adult humour.”

Presenter Adam Hills asked Margolyes: “How do you think the Government have handled everything so far?”

The Harry Potter actress replied: “Appallingly of course… It’s a disgrace… It’s a public scandal.

“I had difficulty not wanting Boris Johnson to die, I wanted him to die, and then I thought that reflects badly on me and I don’t want to be the sort of person who wants people to die.

“So then I wanted him to get better, which he did do, he did get better, but he didn’t get better as a human being and I really would prefer that.”

Channel 4 said it was doubtful that viewers would have thought the actress had “genuinely” wanted the Prime Minister to die.

She “immediately mitigated” her comment and said she realised that this reflected badly on her and that she “wanted him to get better”, the broadcaster added.

It was Ofcom’s view that, although Miriam Margolyes’ comments were provocative and had the potential to cause offence, taken as a whole they were unlikely to have exceeded viewers’ expectations of this live, late-night comedy show on Channel 4Ofcom

Ofcom cited “a long tradition in UK broadcasting of satirical programmes where comedy will be derived from contributors making provocative and challenging statements about people in the public eye, including elected politicians”.

It also “took into account that the presenter, Adam Hills, and regular contributors, Alex Brooker and Josh Widdicombe looked visibly shocked in reaction to Miriam Margolyes’ initial comment, and that none of the presenters endorsed her comments about the Prime Minister.

“Further, Adam Hills immediately moved the discussion on to another topic,” it said.

“It was Ofcom’s view that, although Miriam Margolyes’ comments were provocative and had the potential to cause offence, taken as a whole they were unlikely to have exceeded viewers’ expectations of this live, late-night comedy show on Channel 4.”

PA