The BBC has defended Graham Norton over a ‘controversial’ joke he made on his show involving the tension between Russia and Ukraine.
The presenter referenced Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to the country in a comedy sketch at the start of his programme, saying: “This week, [Johnson] flew off to Ukraine, or if you’re watching on catch-up TV, he flew off to south-west Russia.”
After hearing complaints about the comment, the BBC stated: “We appreciate the seriousness of the current situation there and can assure you there was no intention to cause any offence with these remarks.
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“Comedy is one of the most subjective areas of programming and while no subject is off-limits we appreciate that some jokes may resonate differently for those with personal experience of a particular situation.”
Before the broadcasting company released an apology, viewers took to Twitter and slammed Norton for being ‘crass’.
One person fumed: “@grahnort funny boy Norton is cracking jokes about the stalled diplomacy to avert a Russian invasion of Ukraine on his frivolous little show.
“I’d bet those who are holding the line, ready for an imminent attack, are p***ing themselves with laughter let alone fear.”
Tagging Norton, another added: “Really disappointed with your crass joke on Ukraine.
“The threat to Ukraine is not funny. The loss of Ukrainian independence and sovereignty will not be funny.
“Thousands of body bags will not be funny. Millions of refugees will not be funny. Your ‘joke’ was not funny.”
Foreign Secretary Lizz Truss also got involved with the issue during an appearance on LBC Radio, saying she doesn’t ‘support a censorship state’.
She commented: “I don’t support a censorship state that stops comedians from making jokes.”
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