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Michael McIntyre's The Wheel


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Shocked to hear Michael McIntyre make a joke on prime time Saturday night TV tonight asking another celebrity if the reason he's an expert in housekeeping is because of some kind of obsessive compulsion. Just as shocked to hear the celebrity (Tom Allen) reply, 'Yes I love to polish the silverware.'

I've posted a Tweet on Micheal McIntyre's account (or rather his promotor's account) as a reply to his advertisement for the programe being on BBC1.

I've also sent the following complaint to the BBC:

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Michael commented to Tom Allen, 'So your housekeeping expertise, is this due to some kind of obsessive compulsion?'  This is an inacurate and offensive portrayal of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. OCD is a serious and debilitating mental illness which has nothing whatsoever to do with liking things clean and tidy.  A celebrity on prime time TV making this kind of joke reinforces the common misconception, increases stigma rather than reducing it, and may prevent some people from seeking help for their disorder because they fear ridicule or being misunderstood. It does a huge amount of harm and undermines the hard work of charities like OCD-UK and individuals suffering with OCD who bravely fight to end this kind of ignorance and prejudice.  
Tom Allen was equally to blame for his reply about 'polishing the silverware' without challenging the context of the joke. It wouldn't have been difficult to put in a comment such as 'Excessive cleaning isn't what OCD is about' before going on to remark on his housekeeping preferences.
Comedians often make jokes about serious matters, and this is acceptable where the intention is to highlight and correct a public misconception. However, it is not acceptable when the joke perpetuates prejudice and harms people who are vulnerable and ill.
The BBC should have higher standards than to allow  the promotion of prejucical jokes about mental illness. In a stroke, much of the good work done by the BBC in recent times to reduce the stigma of mental illness has been undone. I am shocked and disappointed. I hope the two comedians involved will both be made aware of this complaint and encouraged to educate themselves on OCD. Perhaps in future they will use their celebrity status to help us counter public ignorance that OCD is about handwashing and liking a clean house.

I shall await a reply...

Edited by snowbear
added BBC complaint
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what a great message snow bear, you have a flair for explaining things so clearly and succinctly. :). I completely agree with everything you say. 

please do let us know of any replies. 

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I think you should also write to Prince William sometime.  He and the Duchess of Cambridge have done a lot to raise awareness of mental health issues and I do think their concern & intent is indeed genuine.  Mostly, they are confined to depression and sometimes anxiety.  I have seen William refer to himself as being "A bit OCD" on at least two occasions.  I don't think it was done with any malintent but from a complete lack of knowledge or understanding.  He could do so much to bring OCD to awareness.  I also think it's highly unlikely that he is remotely aware of the range and extent that OCD may affect someone apart from issues like cleanliness and order.  If he took as little as an hour to peruse a forum like this, I think he'd be very shocked.  Get typing @snowbear...... snail mail to Kensington Palace :D

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I'd need to know where and when he made the references, Caramoole, for it to carry any weight. I don't follow the Royals, but if you come across him saying it again make a note of where, when and the context and I'll see what I can do. :)

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Another one......Arlene Philip's taling about herself on tonight's "I'm a Celebrity".  "I'm completely OCD about everything in my life being organised, clean, neat & tidy"

We need a name and shame thread of all celebs etc misusing the term!

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Got this rather unsatisfactory reply today:

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Thanks for getting in touch with us regarding Michael McIntyre's The Wheel on BBC One November 13th.

We note you feel there was inappropriate comments made on the programme about Obsessive compulsive disorder.

Comedy is one of the most subjective areas of programming and there is no single set of standards on which the whole of society can agree. While it’s never our intention to offend our audience, it is perhaps inevitable that aspects of our programmes which are acceptable to some will occasionally strike others as distasteful.

Our Editorial Guidelines uphold the right to freedom of expression and the right of programme-makers to include material which some members of the audience may find inappropriate or offensive.

Over the years the BBC have produced a number of programmes about Obsessive compulsive disorder which has helped to tackle the stigma and educate viewers on the condition. For example Radio in Four: Living with OCD (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1wk60wWvnBTTNGLn63RrvgN) and Extreme OCD Camp on BBC Three.

Nevertheless, we do value your feedback about this. All complaints are sent to senior management and we’ve included your points in our overnight report. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the company and ensures that your concerns have been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future content.

Thanks again for getting in touch with us.

Kind regards
BBC Complaints Team

In short, they haven't even told the 2 comedians involved that there's been a complaint, so neither of them will be aware of, or able to correct, their ignorance. I did try to contact Michael McIntyre on Twitter, but only his promotional account is available which doesn't seem to reach him personally.

I intend to reply and take it up with them again. Perhaps 'your reply can be interpreted as the BBC upholds the right to mislead and misinform the public' will be of greater interest to the echelons at BBC standards than 'content which is inappropriate and offends some viewers'. :dry:

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