Friday, September 24, 2004
London The British Broadcasting Corp. has scrapped a cartoon featuring Pope John Paul II on a pogo stick, after a wave of protests by Roman Catholics.
"Popetown," featuring the voices of comedian Ruby Wax as the pontiff and model Jerry Hall as a fame-hungry nun, was commissioned for the digital channel BBC3. The animation featured corrupt cardinals and an infantile pope who bounced around the Vatican on a pogo stick.
BBC chiefs said Thursday it was too offensive to broadcast.
"After a lot of consideration and consultation, balancing the creative risk with the potential offense to some parts of the audience, we have decided not to transmit the program," said BBC3 Controller Stuart Murphy.
"Despite all the creative energy that has gone into this project and the best efforts of everyone involved, the comic impact of the delivered series does not outweigh the potential offense it will cause," he added. "There is a fine judgment line in comedy between the scurrilously funny and the offensive."
More than 6,000 Roman Catholics had signed a petition demanding "Popetown" be scrapped, after excerpts of the planned show appeared on the Internet.
Portsmouth Bishop Crispian Hollis, who led protests against the show, welcomed the decision.
"It was obviously going to be a controversial program which would have caused offense, not least among the Catholic community who hold the person of the Holy Father in the highest regard and affection," he said. "Any attempt to belittle or diminish his status as the leader of the Catholic Church is totally unacceptable, and not only to Catholics."