Most Complained About TV Shows: Ofcom’s Surprise Ruling

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After a year where Ofcom, which maintains broadcasting standards in the UK, received a total of 36,543 complaints about TV – we now know which TV shows were the biggest offenders, at least in terms of how many people bothered to complain about them.

It may not surprise you to find out that Love Island tops the list, followed closely by I’m a Celebrity…. Get me out of here! – but a bigger surprise may be with Ofcom’s ruling that “neither warranted further investigation”.

In fact, when a TV programme is as popular as these two – it’s likely to get a larger number of complaints, as more people are watching. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Ofcom’s rules were broken.

Ofcom UK logo
Photo: Deposit Photos / Rafapress

Before we take a closer look at the Top 10 list of the most complained-about shows of 2022, it’s worth mentioning that this list doesn’t include BBC programmes, as complaints about those are handled directly by the BBC.

In 2022, Ofcom received 36,543 complaints about over 9,500 issues, and completed 74 broadcast standards investigations. Of those, only 66 cases warranted a ruling that rules have indeed been broken.

Top 10 Most Complained About UK TV Moments In 2022

1. Love Island (ITV2), July 17

Number of Complaints: 2,630

The long-running and uber-popular reality show has long been a staple of the most complained about TV shows list.

Love Island 2022

The July 17 episode garnered complaints “related to alleged misogynistic and bullying behaviour by some contestants in the villa”.

According to Ofcom, it assessed the complaints carefully, and ultimately concluded that the programme did not warrant formal investigation because of how this behaviour was put into context on the programme.

Ofcom also considered that Love Island is a long-running show whose format is well-established – “So viewers tuning in would expect to see couples’ relationships being tested during the course of the series”.

2. I’m a Celebrity… Get me out of here! (ITV2), November 6-27

Number of Complaints: 1,890

Many viewers objected to former health secretary Matt Hancock’s participation in the show, while an almost identical number of complainants objected to what they saw as “negative treatment” of him on the show.

I'm a celebrity matt hancock
Matt Hancock (Photo: ITV)

Ofcom decided that no rules were breached, as “there is no ban on any particular person taking part in programmes”. 

As for the negative treatment complaints, Ofcom says that viewers already know to expect celebrities being subject to repetitive public votes to carry out trials.

3. Friday Night Live (Channel 4), October 21

Number of Complaints: 1,548

Complaints related to a performance by Jordan Gray, who stripped naked in front of a live audience.

4. Love Island (ITV2), July 19

Number of Complaints: 1,523

The hit reality show making another appearance in the list – again with complaints related to alleged misogynistic and bullying behaviour by some contestants in the villa.

5. Good Morning Britain (ITV), February 15

Number of Complaints: 860

Complaints related to comments made by Richard Madeley about death threats made to Keir Starmer.

6. Jeremy Vine (Channel 5), January 24

Number of Complaints: 773

Viewers complained about a health consultant’s inaccurate statement about numbers of unvaccinated people in hospital with Covid-19.

7. Love Island (ITV2), July 18

Number of Complaints: 769

We’re back on the island, with more complaints related to alleged misogynistic and bullying behaviour by some contestants in the villa.

8. I’m a Celebrity… Get me out of here! (ITV), November 13

Number of Complaints: 627

Viewers objected to bullying behaviour against… Matt Hancock.

9. FIFA World Cup Final 2022 (ITV), December 18

Number of Complaints: 605

Yes, the Argentina vs France match from last week managed to make it into the Top 10 list already.

Viewers made complaints related to politicised comments from Gary Neville.

10. Sky News, September 10

Number of Complaints: 599

A Justice for Chris Kaba walk was reported as people on their way to pay tribute to the late Queen. Ofcom is investigating whether this breached rules on due accuracy.

Note: Complaints figures were captured during the period January 1 – December 19 2022.

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