LONDON — The BBC has posted private security guards outside the homes of two execs after they received threatening phone calls following Saturday’s showing of the controversial “Jerry Springer — The Opera” on BBC2. BBC2 controller Roly Keating and director of television Jana Bennett received the calls when their phone numbers appeared on the Web site of evangelical religious group Christian Voice, which called the show blasphemous and obscene.
Mainstream Christian org the Churches Media Council did not oppose “Springer.”
The show, a West End hit due to open on Broadway soon, features a spat between Satan and a diaper-wearing Jesus who admits being “a bit gay.”
The pubcaster received a record 45,000 complaints before airing the show, which was taped in front of a live audience at the Cambridge Theater and starred David Soul as Jerry Springer. Some 780 viewers complained during transmission — but the BBC also received 520 messages of thanks for airing the opera.
The previous complaints record is held by Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ,” which received 1,600 when it aired in 1995.
“Springer” attracted 1.8 million viewers, a 10.6 share — not bad for an opera screened at 10 p.m.
As yet, the BBC has no plans to repeat “Springer” — not even on highbrow digital web BBC4. “It’s a bit premature,” grimaced the spokesman.
Meanwhile, the producers of “Springer” have offered cut-price £10 ($18.70) tickets to Christians who bring a copy of the New Testament to the Cambridge Theater box office.
The protests follow on the heels of violent action by protesting Sikhs in Birmingham that closed a play, “Behzti” (Dishonor), they felt offended their religion. The BBC has received praise in some quarters for not bowing to pressure to pull the show.