'Jerry Springer - The Opera' on BBC Two

Well, I and my flatmates sat around to watch the BBC screening of Jerry Springer - The Opera this evening, and we all thought it was utterly hilarious and completely brilliant. The show puts the language of Jerry Springer, including 'talk to the hand' and 'chick with a dick', into music brilliantly, and the contrast between the swear-words and the opera singing works really well - 'cunt' sounds like it was always meant to be sung.

The story works well, taking the Jerry Springer show into the depths of hell, with a bunch of great characters who get reprised in biblical scenes. For all the brashness and over-the-top-ness of the style, though, the story and moral is genuine and more heartfelt and sentimental than I imagined.

I also enjoyed the Jerry Springer show, Ruby Wax show (where she goes backstage at the Jerry show and talks to the transsexual participants, who are so much larger-than-life that you can scarcely believe that the relationships they talk about are real) and the making-of-the-opera that formed part of the evening's programming. I agree with one of the talking heads that the show really does a lot for the opera medium, and I hope it inspires similar contemporary operas.

As for the outrage, it's completely unfounded. Whilst there are swear-words aplenty, the context makes them a necessary part of the show and I don't see how anyone could possibly be offended. As for religious content, the 'blasphemy' amounted to Jesus saying he was 'a bit gay', Mary and Joseph admitting that 'the condom split' and God commenting that his job was 'hard work' - hardly earth-shattering. 'Blasphemy' as a crime is outdated anyhow. The TV programme code makes no specific reference to blasphemy, and the religion section is more concerned with protecting the public from proselytising religious content. Broadcasters are only obliged to flag potentially offensive content, which they (over) did with the screening this evening.

Ofcom, who hastily put up a message on their site this afternoon to remind potential complainees that they only deal with post-transmission complaints, are bound to get tons of complaints from the organised Christian brigade and odd Daily Mail reader, but I bet lots of people will comment on how much they enjoyed the show too: contact Ofcom.

A quick roundup of links: Currybet reports on the messageboard effect, Londonist jokes that the real outrage is for Sky customers who had to pay-per-view to see the show, Dave posts photos of the protesters on the BBC comedy blog and Ed points to Stewart Lee's criticism of BBC 2 controller Roly Keating [link dead] for claiming that the opera would "push back the boundaries of taste and decency" (hardly - the show would be better described as 'pushing forward operatic theatre').

Update: Bloggerheads is suspicious about the source of the Roly Keating quote and the BBC reports that the show got 1.7 million viewers.