I understand you remain unhappy about comments made in the programme Most
Annoying People of the Year 2008.
Firstly please let me apologise for the delay in responding,
Information has been extremely busy and there was a backlog unfortunately.
Please let me also apologise for the fact that your first response from us
was not personalised, however, it was our official statement and had been
signed off by the programme.
I am also aware that you have written to the Director General’s office and
you should also be hearing from them soon.
The BBC has a three stage complaints process; initially
will try to answer your complaint to the best of our ability, but if you
remain unhappy then we will pass your concerns onto someone connected to
If you remain unhappy then you can go to stage two of the
process by contacting our Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU) who will
investigate further and make a ruling as to whether or not your complaint
should be upheld. If you disagree with ECU’s findings then you may escalate
your complaint to the BBC Trust which is the third and
final stage of the
In line with this I have already passed your email onto Katie
Taylor, who was the BBC Executive Producer on Most
Annoying People of the
Year 2008. She has prepared the below statement for you with the help of
the show’s producer Anna Gien. As previously mentioned, if you would still
like to take this matter further then Katie has provided ECU’s details at
the end of her statement.
BBC Information Divisional Advisor
I’m very sorry to learn that you were offended by some of the commentary
during the piece on Samantha Ronson and Lindsay Lohan.
The Most Annoying People of the Year (2008) was a light-hearted, comedic
review of the events of the last twelve months, casting a look back at the
stories that have irked and amused.
Sam Ronson and Lindsay Lohan was one of the most over-publicised celebrity
stories of 2008. They made it onto the list, not simply because of their
sexuality, but because of their constant denial of the relationship, that
was simultaneously being played out in the public eye. As extremely
PR-savvy celebrities, Sam and Lindsay, were not the first couple to have
made it onto one of these lists for these reasons. For example, in previous
episodes, we highlighted similar arguments about Billy Zane and Kelly
I feel that Heidi Parker, our interviewee at the very start of the piece,
made it clear to viewers why Sam and Linsdsay made it onto the list:
"What’s been annoying is that they’ve really had a lot of fun with working
up the press into a tizzy about are they or aren’t they, and it’s just so
obvious that they are, but you know, they’re kind of sweet in a way because
they seem like they’re in love and happy but they’re kind of annoying too
because they’re working it."
The programme then goes on to discuss the nature of the relationship
between the pair and invites various commentators to give their views on
it. These commentators were deliberately chosen as they covered a broad
base of views and sexuality.
DJ Spoony and Ron Jeremy admittedly made some very non-pc, unsophisticated
remarks but they were not malicious in any way. Ron makes a pompous
statement that they were lesbian because they had never met him and then
goes on to fantasise about ‘situations’ with girls. Spoony comments were,
we felt, largely in the same ‘what a waste’ vein that straight women often
talk about attractive gay men. We feel that viewers of this programme would
have known how to take their comments in a programme of this nature.
Alongside this we had Miranda Sawyer and Heidi Parker discussing the
positive impact of the relationship on Lindsay, who was known for her party
lifestyle before they met up, and saying what a great couple they made. We
also featured Grazia writer Paul Flynn, who is himself openly gay, talking
about the couple changing the normal perception of lesbians. His exact
"I mean the lesbian community must be absolutely jumping for joy about that
woman, because you don’t have hot, cool lesbians in culture, they don’t
Paul’s point of view probably stemmed from the lack of visible ‘cool’
lesbian figures in popular culture, various L Word cast members and the odd
pop star aside. Sadly, major celebrity lesbians are virtually non-existent
in the media and popular culture. The hysterical media storm surrounding
Lindsay Lohan was itself evidence of this.
As a female Series Producer for this show, I assure you that I would have
been very uncomfortable with the idea of broadcasting anything that could
be construed as being misogynistic or homophobic. (Incidentally, both the
Executive Producer of the show and the Director are gay, and both would
have been equally keen to ensure that there was also no hint of misogyny or
The whole piece was simply a comedic look at the teasing tabloid obsession
of a high profile lesbian relationship, examined in detail and from many
different, sometimes very un-pc, perspectives.
I hope my email demonstrates the true intentions behind the commentary
included in this section of the programme.
Series Producer -The Most Annoying People of the Year (2008)
As you’re aware, you can pursue this complaint further by contacting the
BBC‘s Editorial Complaints Unit who will independently
complaint. You can write to them at the following address:
Editorial Complaints Unit
BBC, Room 5168
201 Wood Lane
Alternatively you can email the Unit at the address:
BBC Executive Producer