BBC Interrupts “Mrs Brown’s Boys” For The Death Of Nelson Mandela, Gets 850 Complaints

Not even the death of a global statesman can get between these people and their favourite bawdy sitcom.

1. Nelson Mandela’s death was a big story for all news outlets — but some 850 BBC viewers wrote to complain about the blanket coverge.

Stringer / Reuters

2. BBC One switched 2.75 million viewers from the knockabout slapstick fun of Mrs Brown’s Boys to live rolling news coverage, something the Beeb does very rarely.

3. Some people not quite in tune with world events (or South Africa’s struggle for equality and justice) were less than pleased.

6. The BBC’s news director James Harding told the Beeb’s own Newstalk programme on Friday:


The decision-making is one around the significance of Nelson Mandela. Nobody needs a lecture on his importance but we are probably talking about the most important statesman, the most significant statesman, of the last 100 years, a man who defined freedom, justice, reconciliation, forgiveness. The importance of his life and marking his death seems extremely clear to us

7. Perhaps a better argument is that the same night, Britain was being battered by storms and a tidal surge, causing some of the worst flooding in living memory.

Phil Noble / Reuters

Some viewers though the Beeb should have given the weather more prominence in its coverage. James Harding admitted he understood the point about providing more weather coverage, but insisted that the corporation was covering the destruction via local radio and bbc.co.uk.

8. The particular episode of Mrs Brown’s Boys, “Mammy’s Ass,” a Christmas special, was a repeat anyway.

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