ITV has been cleared by TV watchdog Ofcom following complaints about Sir Trevor McDonald calling the late comic Bernard Manning a “fat, white bastard”.
The remark, made on ITV1 show News Knight with Sir Trevor McDonald on the week Manning died, sparked 112 complaints that it was racist or inappropriate.
Sir Trevor told viewers: “Personally, I never thought of Bernard Manning as a racist comic… just a fat, white bastard…”
Ofcom said the former newsreader “clearly intended to parody” Manning’s own brand of comedy “where he claimed he wasn’t himself racist, but simply made ‘jokes’ based on racial stereotypes”.
Ofcom said: “In the case of this programme, Sir Trevor McDonald obviously, and intentionally, drew on Bernard Manning’s own style of humour, which frequently played on the real or apparent prejudices of his audience.
“It was in such a context that Sir Trevor McDonald could therefore state that he did not consider Manning to be a racist but then went on to say that he was ‘…a fat white bastard’.”
The regulator said the 10pm show was broadcast an hour later than the 9pm watershed and that “it was clear from the outset that the programme, whilst a comedy, was an edgy, satirical look at the week’s news and that on occasions there would be some material that risked offending some viewers”.
It cleared ITV of breaching broadcasting guidelines, ruling that “any offence that may have been caused was justified by the context”.