Rihanna and Aguilera get Mail knickers in a twist
Two years after Sachsgate the Daily Mail continues to keep those pesky broadcasters on their toes
As hard as it tries, the Daily Mail is finding it difficult to work up a scandal to equal that of 'Sachsgate' - the Radio 2 'lewd phone calls' sage of October 2008 that led to Russell Brand resigning and Jonathon Ross serving a three-month ban before quitting the BBC for ITV.
In recent days, the paper has done its best to whip up a frenzy over bad-taste jokes from Simon Amstell and Frankie Boyle, but with little enthusiasm from readers. So today it has turned its distinctive brand of ire on the American pop stars Christina Aguilera and Rihanna, specifically the "pseudo-sexual grinding" they both indulged in during the penultimate episode of The X Factor on Saturday - before the 9pm watershed.
The Mail's front page claims that 1,000-plus complaints to both Ofcom and ITV about the show – which was viewed by up to 20 million people – was evidence of a "huge backlash" and a growing "storm".
The suggestive performances "horrified parents" and broke the "bond of trust with viewers", prompting unspecified "critics" to call for an investigation, the paper said.
As The First Post revealed at the time, the Brand/Ross phone calls back in October 2008 had actually attracted only two complaints to the BBC switchboard before a wily Mail reporter picked up on the messages the men left on actor Andrew Sachs's answer-machine about his grand-daughter.
Once the Mail went for it, however, the complaints came in by the hundreds and thousands, many from people who had never heard the Radio 2 broadcast but were happy to believe that it had been appallingly rude.
So the paper knows the value of a good broadcasting scandal when it sees the potential for one - and the X Factor pre-watershed 'grinding' issue has all loyal reporters and piling in.
Mail columnist Jan Moir, who currently holds the record for PCC complaints after an "extremely distasteful" tirade against the Boyzone singer Stephen Gately shortly after his death last October, wrote this about the X Factor's "sex-crazed nymphs":
"Please. This is a popular entertainment show watched by millions of children. It is not just that the crotch flashing and pseudo sexual grinding provided by both global stars was out of place before the watershed – it's more that the message it sends out to a young and impressionable audience is so debasing and depressing."
Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe - no stranger to uncomfortable Saturday night viewing following her stint on Strictly Come Dancing - could only come up with the thought that it was a "pity".
Still, in case readers missed these "disgusting routines", the Mail illustrated its online report with a series of photographs of Miss Aguilera "in an extremely low-cut black dress writhing around the stage with her troupe of scantily-clad dancers" and Rihanna cavorting "in her underwear".
Sadly, the paper's fury at the two singers' routines was rather undermined by a string of photo "puffs" on the same page advertising other stories available at Mail Online today – many of them featuring young women in a state of undress.
These included Gary Lineker's "young wife in a series of skimpy bikinis"... Model Marisa Miller in "nothing except a pair of baseball boots", Kylie Minogue in a "very short dress", Konnie Huq in a Katy Perry-style bra and knickers, and X Factor wannabes Cher Lloyd and Katie Waissel wearing "racy tights" and an "incredibly tight latex dress". ·
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