The most complained about TV moments of all time after Piers Morgan’s Meghan Markle rant gets 41k Ofcom complaints


PIERS Morgan’s rants about Meghan Markle on Good Morning Britain saw the show hit with 41,000 Ofcom complaints – the highest number for a decade.

However, the 55-year-old star, who quit rather than apologise for calling the Duchess a liar, doesn’t yet hold the record for the most objections ever.

Piers Morgan’s treatment of Meghan Markle upset viewers – and Alex Beresford

The 2007 Celebrity Big Brother racism row involving Jade Goody and Shilpa Shetty attracted 44,500.

And even more objected when the BBC screened Jerry Springer: The Opera with its troupe of tap-dancing Ku Klux Klansmen.

In fact, there are no end of shows over the years that have left viewers howling with outrage.

Here, we run down the ten most complained-about moments in British TV history – from a possessed Michael Parkinson to the notorious ‘punchgate’ row between Roxanne Pallett and Ryan Thomas…

Dani Dyer was left in tears on Love Island in 2018 – but for no reason

10. Dani Dyer crying on Love Island

Love Island bosses found themselves on the receiving end of some serious rage from the Dani Dyer fan club in 2018.

Producers thought it would be a great wheeze to show her a clip of boyfriend Jack Fincham looking like his head has been turned by an ex.

Of course, nothing of the sort was going on and as Dani broke down in floods of tears, 2,644 complained to Ofcom that this kind of behaviour was very much not their type on paper.

Rihanna’s skimpy outfits and sizzling dance routines picked up 2,868 complaints
Louis Walsh and the X Factor panel were up on their feet after the performance

9. Rihanna on The X Factor

Simon Cowell might have leapt out of his seat, but not everyone was so impressed with Rihanna’s appearance on The X Factor in 2010.

Many parents watching complained she and Christina Aquilera, who also performed, weren’t wearing much at all given the early viewing home.

And when the crotch-thrusting began, it was only a matter of time before the Ofcom switchboard started lighting up with complaints, with the final total resting at 2,868.

Channel 4’s Brass Eye special tricked celebrities including Phil Collins

8. Brass Eye: Paedogeddon (3,000)

Chris Morris’ pitch-black satire was never not going to get complaints – with the sort of subject matter that left many wondering how it ever got on air.

The programme, which made fun of TV coverage of paedophiles, also duped a number of celebrities, among them Phil Collins, into backing a spoof charity called Nonce Sense.

With crushing predictability, there was an almighty backlash and around 3,000 viewers complained.

Today host Bill Grundy’s interview with The Sex Pistols could not have gone worse

His invitation to ‘say something outrageous’ prompted a string of swear words

7. Bill Grundy and the Sex Pistols

It happened four decades ago but Today presenter Bill Grundy’s interview with the Sex Pistol remains shocking to this day.

The host, clearly mightily irritated with the band, poured petrol on an interview that was already totally out control with the words: “Say something outrageous.”

Guitarist Steve Jones duly obliged – calling Grundy a “dirty b***ard”, a “dirty f***er” and a “f***ing rotter”.

One viewer is said to have provided the ultimate complaint – by putting his foot through his £380 TV set. Today was cancelled two months later.

Coleen Nolan and Kim Woodburn went to war on another another on live TV

6. Kim Woodburn on Loose Women

Even the sight of Janet Street-Porter dressed as a comedy judge couldn’t disguise the ugliness when Kim Woodburn appeared on Loose Women.

She was brought in to bury the hatchet with Coleen Nolan, her former Celebrity Big Brother housemates, but all viewers saw was hatchets flying everywhere as the pair traded insults.

In the end, Kim marched off the show calling Coleen “lying trash” and saying she’d been “cruelly mocked” by the singer and her sister Lina.

Either way, daytime viewers were mightily unimpressed, with 8,002 complaints being lodged with the TV watchdog in 2018.

Ashley Banjo was thrown on the floor with a cop kneeling on him in a controversial dance

Viewers complained the BLM-themed performance wasn’t right for a family show

5. BLM dance on Britain’s Got Talent

Until Piers’ remarks this week, Diversity’s dance referencing the Black Lives Matter movement was the most complained-about moment of the decade.

It saw Ashley Banjo and his co-stars referencing the death of George Floyd in the US with him face down on the stage with a police officer kneeling on him.

Some felt the scenes weren’t appropriate for a family show and 24,500 complaints flew into Ofcom’s inbox.

However, the TV watchdog remained very calm about the dance and eventually said it wouldn’t be investigating.

Mike Smith, Michael Parkinson and Sarah Greene in the BBC’s Ghostwatch

4. Ghostwatch

The BBC terrified the nation’s youngsters in 1992 when it aired this Halloween special that is said to have left at least two children with PTSD.

Broadcast from a ‘haunted house’ with only the slightest suggestion it was all set up, Ghostwatch was presented as if it were a live show.

It featured a line-up of BBC stars including Sarah Greene, who was murdered at the hands of a malevolent spirit called Pipes.

And in the shocking finale, Michael Parkinson was possessed by a demon, supposedly on air – speaking in Pipes’ voice.

BBC switchboards were jammed when 30,000 people called in during the show alone.

3. Piers v Meghan (41,000)

The host said he didn’t believe Meghan’s claim to have battled mental health problems

Piers Morgan criticising Meghan Markle is nothing new – but their clash came to a head in dramtic fashion this week.

The 55-year-old said he didn’t believe Meghan, who had claimed to have issues with her mental health and had been suicidal.

He was challenged over the views by co-star Alex Beresford, causing Piers to walk out of the studio.

But there was more drama to come on Tuesday night as the star quit after refusing to apologise for his remarks in the wake of 41,000 Ofcom complaints.

Jade Goody called Indian actress Shilpa Shetty ‘Shilpa Poppadom’ during a row

Comments about the Bollywood star resulted in 44,500 complaints to Ofcom

2. Celebrity Big Brother rows

Celebrity Big Brother found itself engulfed in not one but two of the biggest scandals of the TV age.

First, a group of stars including Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd, and Jo O’Meara, were accused of racism against Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty in 2007.

The programme aired several of the shock scenes in full, including the moment Jade referred to the Indian actress as “Shilpa Poppaadom”.

The outrage was so loud even Gordon Brown, then on the cusp of becoming Prime Minister condemned it. A staggering 44,5000 people complained to Ofcom.


Controversy reared its head again in 2018 when former Emmerdale actress Roxanne claimed she’d been “repeatedly punched” by Ryan Thomas.

The public were outraged as the moment, which was captured on camera, insisting the footage was playfighting not assault.

The accusation was bad news for Roxanne who said later: “I’ve lost my career, my radio jobs, my life as I knew it, everything.”

Ryan, meanwhile, went on to win the series amid 25,327 Ofcom complaints.

David Soul as Jerry Springer in a promo for the controversial performance

1. Jerry Springer: The Opera

What could be so offensive about an opera? Well, just ask the 55,000 people who complained about Jerry Springer: The Opera.

The stage show was broadcast on BBC Two, sparking a wave of outrage and becoming Britain’s most complained-about broadcast ever.

Comedian Stewart Lee’s show, which saw Jesus say he was a “bit gay”, prompted fury from Christians who called it disrespectful.

Organisation Christian Voice protested at nine BBC offices and a record number of objections were received, many of them before the show even aired.