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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Naomi Clarke

Laurence Fox comments about Ava Evans tops Ofcom complaints list for 2023

The Dan Wootton Tonight episode in which Laurence Fox made on-air remarks about female journalist Ava Evans was the most complained-about TV event of the year, Ofcom has revealed.

The episode, which was broadcast on GB News on September 26, received 8,867 complaints with viewers objecting to the “misogynistic comments” made by actor-turned-politician Fox about political correspondent Ms Evans, including asking “who would want to s**g that?”

Fox and presenter Wootton, who later both apologised, were suspended by the channel after the broadcast and Fox has since been sacked from the channel while a probe by Ofcom into the episode is ongoing.

The incident narrowly beat Bridgerton star Adjoah Andoh’s comments made during ITV’s coverage of the King’s coronation to the top spot of the media watchdog’s annual list.

The coverage received 8,421 complaints with the majority relating to her remarks “which focused on the appearance of the Royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace”.

Andoh, who plays Lady Agatha Danbury in the Netflix show, said at the time: “Looking at all those young people, there is a bit of me that has gone from the rich diversity of the Abbey to the terribly white balcony. I’m very struck by that.”

The actress later appeared on BBC Radio 4 to clarify what she meant and apologise for remarking on the moment Charles and Camilla appeared on the balcony at Buckingham Palace to wave at the public with their family.

After conducting an assessment into the comments, Ofcom said it would not be taking further action on them.

The media watchdog said: “While we understand some viewers had strong feelings about this comment, after careful consideration we concluded that the comment was a personal observation which was part of a wide-ranging panel discussion which also touched on other diversity-related topics, and which contained a range of viewpoints.

“Our decision to not pursue these complaints further also took into account the right to freedom of expression.”

An episode of ITV’s Good Morning Britain in which TV presenter Richard Madeley questioned MP Layla Moran about her family in Gaza City placed third on the list with 2,391 complaints made by viewers.

During the October 17 episode, the broadcaster asked the Liberal Democrat MP if “there was any word on the street” before Hamas launched its attack on Israel.

A spokesman for the ITV show later said Madeley was “sorry that he upset viewers” and Moran accepted the apology as she thought the line of questioning came from a “place of… ignorance” but was not asked out of malice.

The media watchdog acknowledged that Madeley’s remarks were “potentially offensive” but said after they had taken the entire interview and preceding discussion into account they decide to not pursue the complaints further.

In fourth place was an episode of Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine on March 13, with 2,302 complaints mostly relating to a discussion on the junior doctors’ pay dispute.

Sky News’ Breakfast with Kay Burley took fifth place after a November 23 episode received 1,880 complaints after Israeli spokesperson Eylon Levy was interviewed on the show.

The figures do not include complaints about the BBC, which are handled by the corporation in the first instance.

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