TV comedy star Sir David Jason has hit out at the amount of sex and swearing that children are exposed to on modern television.
His comments follow a BBC executive’s claim that crude language is acceptable in comedies because they are designed to cause offence and make viewers “flinch”.
Sir David, who played Del Boy Trotter in the classic BBC comedy Only Fools and Horses, said he finds it impossible to protect his ten-year-old daughter Sophie from sexual content and swearing on television.
In an interview for the Christmas Radio Times, the actor said: “I try to protect what she sees on television, but you can’t.
“Take the adverts. I was watching SpongeBob, a favourite cartoon of ours, but suddenly a scent advert came on with this girl stripping off as she walks towards the camera.
“It’s done for mums but they forget a lot of girls are watching these powerful images.”
Sir David, 71, slammed modern-day comedians, saying, “Today they push down the barriers. Take the F word. It’s become commonplace.”
The actor added: “There wasn’t much on the telly the other night so with Sophie and her friend we watched Laurel and Hardy, made in the 1930s, and these kids laughed like drains.
“That’s humour – doing what funny people have done since comedy began without being edgy and pushing boundaries.”
Caroline Thomson, the BBC’s chief operating officer, told a conference last week: “Yes. I watch comedy shows and flinch. But I think sometimes that is one of the points of comedy.”
The BBC chief commented that there was an “enormous inter-generational difference about what is acceptable”.
She added: “It is very tricky because language that will give you offence, won’t give me offence. And language which gives me serious offence won’t give my son offence.”
But Vivienne Pattison, director of Mediawatch UK, said the comments proved Miss Thomson was “out of step with her audience”. She added: “Ofcom do research every year asking if there is too much swearing on TV.
“And more than 50 per cent of viewers say there is too much.
“The idea that bad language in comedy is good – it’s not big, it’s not clever and it’s not funny.”