BBC Broadcasts Jerry Springer‹The Opera Amid Protests

Classic Arts News   BBC Broadcasts Jerry Springer‹The Opera Amid Protests
 
Over 45,000 complaints were lodged against the BBC broadcasting of Jerry Springer : The Opera.

Nevertheless, the BBC stuck to its guns and the show was broadcast as scheduled on Saturday, January 8. The viewing figures reported in today's newspapers showed the presentation to have been a success, with over 1.8 million U.K. households (10.8 per cent of the population) having tuned in.

The BBC also received thousands of calls of support from viewers who had enjoyed the show. This might have been some solace to BBC 2 controller Roly Keating, who reportedly had to go into hiding after threats of "bloodshed" against him and his family from some fundamentalist Christians. They were particularly angry at the portrayal of God, Satan, Jesus and Adam and Eve in Act Two, and Jesus (who is equated with a diaper fetishist) confessing in the script, "Actually, I am a bit gay."

The number of complaints is a British television record, breaking the mark set by a showing of Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ ten years ago. The threats of violence toward Keating and other BBC executives also echoed the recent Sikh protests in Birmingham against the play Bezhti, which was closed after violent demonstrations outside the theatre.

Still, the producers of Springer remain defiant. They have even offered £10 tickets to those of the Christian faith to see the show at the Cambridge Theatre and see the offending scenes in context. To qualify for the discount, theatergoers must present a copy of the New Testament at the box office.

The broadcast of Springer was taped in front of a live audience at the Cambridge and starred David Soul in the title role. It was preceded by a profile of Jerry Springer himself, introduced by Soul, a behind-the-scenes look at Springer's TV series, and a documentary about Jerry Springer: The Opera's journey from fringe to West End.

In addition to Soul, the broadcast of the show included many members of the original cast: David Bedella (as Satan), Ben Lake and Alison Jiear. Soul himself took over the role of Springer from Michael Brandon.

For more theater news, visit Playbill On-Line.

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