Now BBC plans an ‘I love the C-word’ documentary

The BBC came under new fire after it announced plans for a £200,000 TV documentary devoted to the most offensive word in the English language.

The programme – tentatively titled I love The C-Word – is billed as examining why the word has become more mainstream in recent years.

But both Shadow Culture Secretary Hugo Swire and John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons Culture Select Committee, attacked the plans.

Mr Swire said: “People expect high standards from the BBC and many might well be offended by effectively subsidising programmes of this nature through the licence fee.

“The change of language is an entirely good thing to look at, but I don’t see why they have to sensationalise the subject.

“I’m sure they can have a stimulating debate about the change of language without resorting to the crude and baser words.”

Mr Whittingdale said: “I have a general principle that I do not condemn programmes until I have seen them. But the BBC have got to recognise this is a word that still offends a large number of people.” The programme is being made for BBC3 by the independent production company North One Television, whose previous shows have included Top Ten X-Rated, The Curse Of Page Three and The World’s Most Shocking Ads, as well as more mainstream ‘tabloid’ shows such as Madonna’s Men and The Truth About Gordon Ramsay.

Its presenter – who is expected to be a comedian, rather than an academic – will interview pundits, academics and artists about the use of the word over the past 30 years and the word itself will be broadcast uncensored.

Contributors will include feminist academic Germaine Greer and Eve Ensler, the author of The Vagina Monologues, an acclaimed stage play which features women talking about their genitals.

Both the BBC and North One claimed it will not be sensationalist. A spokeswoman for the programme said: “It will look at how a word that was considered completely unacceptable has moved into the mainstream, particularly by younger people. The tone will be a serious exploration of the word.”

And North One’s head of factual entertainment John Quinn told the TV industry magazine Broadcast: “It will be a grown-up discussion about how we have got to where we are now with this word without being either sensationalist or po-faced.

“It is perhaps one of the last words that has the ability to stop someone in their tracks and it is fascinating to see how differently it is perceived around the world.”

I Love The C-Word is the latest in a growing number of BBC programmes that have featured the word in recent years, despite internal BBC research showing that it is the one viewers hate the most.

Last year it featured 12 times in The Chatterley Affair, a BBC4 drama about the 1960 obscenity trial over D. H. Lawrence’s book.

It has been used frequently in the award-winning BBC4 political sitcom The Thick Of It, starring Chris Langham as fictional Social Affairs Minister Hugh Abbot and Peter Capaldi as belligerent spin doctor Malcolm Tucker.

And Germaine Greer made a 10-minute film about the history of the word for the BBC2 series Balderdash And Piffle.

In 2004, the BBC received a record number of complaints about its decision to broadcast the controversial Jerry Springer: The Opera. It contained 8,000 obscenities including the use of the f-word 200 times and the c-word nine times.

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