The most complained about TV programmes of 2018

02 January 2019

Celebrity Big Brother was the television programme that Ofcom received the most complaints about in 2018.

Over the year, we received a total of almost 56,000 complaints about programmes from viewers and listeners. Together, the top ten most complained about television shows prompted more than 47,000 complaints, making up 86% of the year’s total.

Ofcom is responsible for securing standards on television and radio. Each complaint we receive is assessed against broadcasting rules to decide whether further action against the broadcaster might be necessary.

The ‘top 10’ TV shows for complaints 2018

Channel 5’s Celebrity Big Brother attracted the most complaints in 2018, with 27,602. Most of these were about an allegation of physical abuse made by Roxanne Pallett against Ryan Thomas.

Second on the list was an episode of ITV’s Loose Women. This prompted 7,912 complaints, most of which were about an interview with guest Kim Woodburn.

Ofcom is investigating both of these programmes.

ITV reality shows Love Island and The X Factor also featured in the top 10 (ranked 4th and 10th respectively), along with storylines on Coronation Street (5th) and Emmerdale (6th) which prompted hundreds of viewers to get in touch with Ofcom. Good Morning Britain (7th), This Morning (8th), Sky News (3rd) and I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here (9th) complete the rankings.

With many people now taking to social media to voice their opinions, many of the programmes that feature in this year’s top ten are also among the top tweeted about programmes of the year, according to Kantar Media research.

Tony Close, Ofcom's Director of Content Standards, Licensing and Enforcement, said:

“Viewers are as passionate as ever about what they watch, discussing programmes with their friends and family, and with other people on social media. They complain to us when they think programmes have fallen below the standards they expect, and we carefully assess each and every complaint we receive.

“This year, we’ve taken action on many occasions where programmes have fallen short of the standards required by our rules.”

Securing standards on TV and radio

People can complain to Ofcom about content on the TV, radio and video-on-demand services we regulate. Complaints can be made by phone, online or by post, and are carefully assessed against our broadcasting rules.

This year, Ofcom’s Content Standards team assessed almost 56,000 audience complaints, and reviewed around 8,200 hours of footage and audio to determine whether our broadcasting rules might have been broken.

We launched 137 investigations into TV and radio programmes in 2018. Of those, 129 were concluded this year. We found our broadcasting rules were broken in 80 cases; 33 cases were found to have not broken the rules; and 16 cases were resolved – which means in those cases our concerns were satisfied by the broadcaster.

The top ten in full:

  1. Celebrity Big Brother: 27,602
  2. Loose Women: 8,002
  3. Sky News: 4,251
  4. Love Island: 4,192
  5. Coronation Street: 1,098
  6. Emmerdale: 759
  7. Good Morning Britain: 548
  8. This Morning: 402
  9. I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!: 335
  10. The X Factor: 286