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Rowan Atkinson Comic Relief sketch gets over 2,200 complaints to BBC

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A Comic Relief sketch featuring Rowan Atkinson impersonating the Archbishop of Canterbury has attracted more than 2,000 complaints.

Before the 9pm watershed on March 15, the Mr Bean star posed as a fictional version of the religious leader during a three-minute skit on BBC One.

Rowan Atkinson as the new Archbishop of Canterbury

© BBC / Comic Relief

Rowan Atkinson as the new Archbishop of Canterbury



He made a number of jokes, including comparing One Direction to Jesus's disciples, saying prayer "doesn't work" and advising viewers that Jesus said "love your neighbours", but not "shag your neighbours".

The BBC received over 2,200 complaints about the routine, with a quarter objecting to the religious context. The corporation has already removed the skit from catch up service iPlayer.

In total, the BBC got more than 3,000 complaints about the Comic Relief charity fundraising night of programming, which drew a peak audience of 12.2m people and raised over £75 million for good causes.

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Other complaints related to a sketch involving the popular BBC One series Call the Midwife, which referred to a "vajazzle".

A BBC spokeswoman said that Comic Relief is a night of live television that is "known for pushing at the boundaries of comedy alongside heartfelt appeal films".

She added: "It is made for a varied and wide-ranging audience so getting the language, tone and content of the evening is extremely important to us.

"This year the programme was watched by a peak audience of 12.2m and we raised a record total of over £75m, but to any viewers we may have offended, we apologise."

Ofcom has also received more than 400 complaints about Comic Relief, covering both the Rowan Atkinson and Call the Midwife skits, along with other issues.

The regulator has not indicated as yet whether it will launch an investigation.

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