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Why two TV shows featuring Gordon Ramsay broke our rules on offensive language

Published: 5 December 2022
Last updated: 16 March 2023

Today we’ve announced that two TV programmes, featuring Gordon Ramsay , broke our broadcasting rules, because they included offensive language but were shown before the 9pm watershed.

An episode of Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back, broadcast before the watershed at 12.10 on Channel 4 on 10 August, included instances of the most offensive language, including the F word.

An episode of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares USA, broadcast at 4pm on E4 Extra on 7 July, included 39 instances of offensive language, with 17 uses of the F word, before the watershed and without any warnings ahead of the programme or apologies after it had been shown.

Both of these incidents were in breach of the Broadcasting Code.

For more information on these decisions and others, see the latest edition of our Broadcast Bulletin.

Why we research attitudes to offensive language

Ofcom carries out research into people’s attitudes towards offensive language on TV and radio.

This research gives us an understanding of how people feel about language they might come across in programmes they watch or listen to. It can support broadcasters in planning their content and helps us when we need to make decisions about potentially offensive language in programmes.

An important aspect of the research is that it means our decisions are not based on our own views on offensive language, and instead are based on what people tell us about how they feel.

Find out more about the research, with an explanation of why it matters to our work on broadcasting standards.

What is the watershed?

There are strict rules about what can be shown on TV before the 9pm watershed – this is the time at which broadcasters can show TV programmes that might be unsuitable for children. There are similarly strict rules about can be broadcast on radio at times when children are particularly likely to be listening, such as the school run and breakfast time, but might include other times.

To find out more about the watershed and what it means for broadcasters and viewers, take a look at our explainer.

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