Emmerdale hit with Ofcom complaints after coronavirus joke

One thing that lockdown hasn’t changed is the excitable hammering of the Ofcom complaints line when a viewer disagrees mildly with something they see on TV.

Emmerdale has represented lockdown in an honest and human way, with six episodes reflecting the kinds of discussions that have been going on in many a household during the coronavirus pandemic.

Many of us have used dry humour or looked on the bright side to try and get us through the strain and that was the same for comedy couple Nicola and Jimmy King (Nicola Wheeler and Nick Miles).

But not everyone saw the funny side when Jimmy made a very Jimmy comment.

Ofcom has confirmed that 12 viewers have issued complaints in relation to a joke in the episode which saw Jimmy say ‘thank you coronavirus’ after he said he didn’t miss the school run, a joke which Nicola agreed with.


While most of us clutched our pearls in horror and moved on, 12 want Ofcom to investigate – but they are currently just assessing the complaints to decide whether an investigation is necessary.

The assessment and the investigation stage doesn’t mean that the show has flouted the Ofcom guidelines.

The lockdown episodes saw some plot developments including Nicola deciding she wants to start a new business, Cain (Jeff Hordley) admitting that he still loves Moira (Natalie J Robb) and Mandy (Lisa Riley) revealing that she is unable to have children.

Next week, the three episodes take the action back to the Andrea Tate (Anna Nightingale) cliffhanger as she is revealed to be alive. But what is she planning?

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What is Ofcom and what does it cover?

Ofcom is the regulator for the communications services that we use and rely on each day.

The watchdog makes sure people get the best from their broadband, home phone and mobile services, as well as keeping an eye on TV and radio.

Ofcom deals with most content on television, radio and video-on-demand services, including the BBC. However, if your complaint is about something you saw or heard in a BBC programme, you may need to complain to the BBC first.

Its rules for television and radio programmes are set out in the Broadcasting Code.

The rules in the Broadcasting Code also apply to the BBC iPlayer.

This Broadcasting Code is the rule book that broadcasters have to follow and it covers a number of areas, including; protecting the under-18s, protecting audiences from harmful and/or offensive material and ensuring that news, in whatever form, is reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality.

Audiences can complain to Ofcom if they believe a breach of the Broadcasting Code has been made.

Every time Ofcom receives a complaint from a viewer or listener, they assess it to see if it needs further investigation.

If Ofcom decide to investigate, they will include the case in a list of new investigations, published in the Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin.

An investigation is a formal process which can take some time depending on the complexity of the issues involved.

Ofcom can also launch investigations in the absence of a complaint from a viewer or listener.

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