The BBC Trust found jibes made by Mock the Week’s Frankie Boyle about Olympic Gold medallist Rebecca Adlington’s looks breached company guidelines.
In a show broadcast in August 2008, Boyle said Adlington looks ‘like someone who’s looking at themselves in the back of a spoon’. He also made sexual innuendo.
One viewer told the BBC he was ‘appalled’.
The show’s producer later responded to the complaint, saying the ribbing might have gone ‘a tad too far’ and apologised.
The Trust noted 75 complaints were received about the item.
BBC Trustee Richard Tait said: “The committee felt that the comments about Rebecca Adlington were humiliating, and this was exacerbated by the fact that she had not sought celebrity status or courted media attention.”
He said there was ‘no clear editorial purpose for the inclusion of the joke’.
But a ‘bad taste’ joke about the Queen made by Boyle on Mock The Week didn’t breach editorial guidelines.
The Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee (ESC) found that, while the joke had sexist and ageist overtones, it didn’t fall foul of the rules.
A repeat of the show – in which Boyle joked you wouldn’t hear the Queen say during her Christmas broadcast: “I’m now so old that my p**** is haunted” – was broadcast last October.
The committee found that, although in poor taste, the gag wouldn’t have gone beyond audience expectations.