Why So Shocking?
Jerry Springer: The Opera is a musical based on the popular chat show.
Act 1 presents a parody of the talk show set to music—the usual fare of sex and betrayal—ending with Jerry being shot by one of his crazed guests.
In Act 2, Jerry finds himself in Hell, moderating a debate between Jesus and Satan. God, Mary, Adam, and Eve all put in appearances, and the characters of Act 2 are portrayed as no less imbalanced than the guests of Act 1.
BBC Director of Television Expresses Surprise at Complaints
The BBC’s director of television Jana Bennett expressed surprise at the scale of the protests against the screening of the show, but insisted that the final decision whether to go to air was made on grounds of quality. “I don’t think you can rule out any subject matter,” she said. “You have to take every piece on its merit.”
Jerry Springer: The Opera won numerous awards as a stage production, including Best Musical in the Olivier, Critics’ Circle, What’s On Stage, and Evening Standard Theatre Awards.
The British media has recently been criticised for bias, reflected in the discrepancy between its great care to avoid offending Muslims and its readiness to mock Christianity.
Blasphemy remains illegal in Britain, but the law against it has long been seen as obsolete. In 1922, John William Gott was imprisonned for comparing Jesus to a clown, but that was the last prosecution of its kind.
The law offers protection only to Christianity and the Church of England, a fact that has lead to calls for it to be updated to reflect the multi-culturalism of modern Britain.
BBC Radio 3 producer Antony Pitts quit in the aftermath of the broadcast, despite director general Mark Thompson’s attempts to persuade him to stay. Pitts, a Catholic, had worked for the corporation for over a decade, but left having seen the programme, saying, “The blasphemy was far, far worse than even the most detailed news reports had lead me to believe.”
Other Christians, however, while not approving of the broadcast, have maintained that the right to freedom of expression should be upheld.
On January 23rd, members of the cast will be welcomed into Chelmsford Cathedral to participate in a concert to raise money for victims of the Boxing Day tragedy.