BBC rules Jo Brand battery acid joke “went beyond what was appropriate”

Ofcom is evaluating complaints and considering whether or not investigate

Have I Got News For You host Jo Brand  (Hat Trick - Photographer: Richard Kendal)

The BBC has ruled that Jo Brand’s controversial joke about throwing battery acid  – rather than milkshakes – at politicians “went beyond what was appropriate” for a Radio 4 show.


On the station’s talk show Heresy in June, the comedian said: “I’m thinking, why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?”

After an investigation by the Executive Complaints Unit (ECU), it was found Brand’s joke “was partially upheld against generally accepted standards of BBC output”. Yet it was added that “with the right treatment, there is no subject matter which should be beyond the scope of comedy”, and contested Brexit party leader Nigel Farage’s accusation that Brand was inciting violence.

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - MAY 20: Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage (R) has what is thought to have been a milkshake thrown over him as he visits Northumberland Street in Newcastle Upon Tyne during a whistle stop UK tour on May 20, 2019 in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. His visit to Newcastle comes ahead of the 2019 European elections in the United Kingdom which will take place on May 23. The Brexit Party, a pro-Brexit Eurosceptic political party formed in 2019, is reported to be polling in front of Labour and the Conservatives for the European parliament elections. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
Nigel Farage was hit with a milkshake in Newcastle

A summary of the findings continued: “Whilst the ECU recognised that the wider message from this episode is an argument for more civility in political discourse, not less, and Ms Brand’s contribution is not intended to be taken as face value, the ECU felt that it went beyond what was appropriate for the show.”

Broadcasting regulator Ofcom said on Thursday that it has received 444 complaints about Brand’s joke. A spokesperson said: “We are assessing the complaint against our broadcasting rules, but are yet to decide whether or not to investigate.”


In a recent interview with, Jeremy Clarkson claimed that Brand kept her job at the BBC as she is a “leftie”, but said the broadcaster was right to keep her. “Of course she shouldn’t have lost her job,” he said. “God, it was a joke.”