Ofcom clears Rowan Atkinson “Archbishop of Canterbury” sketch

Broadcasting watchdog rejects 400 complaints about near-the-knuckle Comic Relief routine

Ofcom has cleared this year’s Comic Relief broadcast Funny for Money, despite hundreds of complaints about a sketch in which Rowan Atkinson, playing the Archbishop of Canterbury, said that prayer doesn’t work and that Jesus is a big fan of One Direction and the word “shagging”.

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The broadcasting watchdog received 400 complaints about the 15 March telethon but said in a statement: “After careful consideration, Ofcom has found the material not in breach of the Broadcasting Code. In reaching this decision we took into consideration the context of the material.

“This included that Comic Relief is widely known for featuring irreverent and often absurd comedy sketches; the intention of the sketch was to create humour rather than seriously deride Christianity; and that the BBC took immediate action on the night of the broadcast, including issuing an apology for the tone of the sketch, removing it from BBC iPlayer and withdrawing a follow-up sketch due for broadcast later in the evening.”

The BBC took action after more than 2,000 viewers complained direct to the Corporation.

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Read the Atkinson routine in full here.