BBC admits Jack Whitehall ‘dwarf joke’ did not meet ‘harm and offence’ guidelines

The BBC has upheld complaints from viewers objecting to a stand-up routine about a dwarf.

Two viewers complained after watching an episode of Live At The Apollo where comedian Jack Whitehall recounted a story about when he had been introduced to a dwarf at a pop concert.

The original routine had been broadcast in 2009 but was recently repeated, prompting the complaints.

Image:
Jack has appeared with his father Michael in the comedy documentary Travels With My Father

And an investigation by the corporation’s Executive Complaints Unit agreed the story had gone “beyond the expectations of audiences”.

It did not meet BBC editorial guidelines on “harm and offence”, it said.

The unit noted that while Whitehall was allowed to exaggerate stereotypes “for comic effect”, it was not okay “to take a stereotypical view of dwarfism itself”.

“We must be aware that audiences may find casual or purposeless stereotypes to be offensive,” the ruling added.

It concluded that while viewers familiar with Jack Whitehall’s “self-deprecating style of comedy” would have understood the routine had been intended primarily to “show up his own inadequacies and failings”, it had gone too far.

The unit promised the routine would not be broadcast again.

Whitehall, 32, is a comedian, presenter and writer, best known for starring as JP in Fresh Meat and Alfie Wickers in the series Bad Education.

He was also a regular panellist on the game show A League Of Their Own and appeared with his father Michael in the Netflix comedy documentary series Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father.