BCC upholds 'Late Late Show' complaints


Gerry Ryan’s only time presenting the Late Late Showwas today panned by the broadcasting watchdog after a raft of complaints over comedian Tommy Tiernan’s appearance.

Angry viewers denounced the stand-up over his mimicry of a man left severely disabled by a motorcycle accident and for a joke about having sex with a Traveller.

The Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCC) upheld eight complaints against the show last October, when Ryan was drafted in to cover for Pat Kenny.

The €559,000-a-year radio host, RTÉ’s second highest earner after Kenny, was also rapped for egging on his guest, who has sparked controversy before on the show.

“The presenter actively engaged in the jokes being told by the comedian and in effect, urged him on irrespective of manner or content,” the BCC said after an investigation.

“At no stage did he challenge or attempt to curb the presentation or what was being said by the comedian.”

Viewers, including the mother of a disabled child and a road crash victim, vented their fury over Tiernan’s mimicry of a disabled man in St Michael’s Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire.

The comedian said he was trying to buy the motorbike off the man and the punchline was that he could not accept payment as he had no grip, the BCC found.

Complainants wrote they were sickened and disgusted with his acting “spasticated” in a “mocking fashion which can only be described as grossly insulting” to someone with an incurable disability.

One mother of a Down Syndrome boy said she found “his jeering at people with disabilities was in very bad taste”.

RTÉ argued: “The motives in telling the joke were to embrace people with disabilities not to stigmatise or stereotype them.”

But the BCC upheld the complaints, insisting that the manner and content of the joke went beyond acceptable standards.

Pavee Point, the Traveller support organisation, was among a number of complainants who took offence at Tiernan’s remarks about having sex with a Traveller.

Pavee Point accused Tiernan of acting in a disgusting, outrageous and racist way.

It said he was suggesting that Travellers were in some way unclean, possibly stupid and sexually promiscuous.

But RTÉ told the official inquiry that it did not know what the joke meant and suspected it meant nothing.

In defending the comedian’s jokes about minorities, the State broadcaster argued: “Tiernan in a humorous way is celebrating the diversity of contemporary Ireland.

“We are a changed society and we can come together through laughing at each other... Irish humour is the practice of insulting people in a humorous way.”

The BCC ruled the Traveller joke was totally inappropriate, went beyond acceptable standards and was also derogatory to the Traveller Community.

Ryan was called in to present the Late Late Showon October 24th after regular host Pat Kenny’s mother died.