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Comedian shares list of ‘words you couldn’t say on TV’ in the 80s

Arthur Smith uncovered a gem (Picture: Getty/Arthur Smith)

Comedian Arthur Smith has shared a list of ‘banned words’ for TV guests in the 80s and we have to say, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Seemingly doing a clear out, the Brit comic unearthed a rather strict set of ‘obscenity’ guidelines which he claimed was made decades ago.

In an attempt to keep guests on shows sticking to family-friendly conversation, it appeared Smith was handed three columns’ worth of words and phrases to keep an eye on to avoid censure.

Those columns ranged from ‘no way’, ‘if you absolutely have to’ and ‘ok’ – and they’re each a trip.

While some of the words you’d still expect to be mostly banned from screens, including the C-word, others show us a glimpse into a whole other time.

Jesus Christ, for instance? That’s on the ‘no way’ pile. Oh god? Well, only ‘if you absolutely have to’. Same goes for Jesus without the Christ. And according to the list, it’s ok to talk about the royal family and politicians. That is, unless it involves fraud or homosexuality.

We’ve pixelated the nasties for your own protection… (Picture: Arthur Smith/Twitter)

Be careful of defamatory remarks about product names and public figures, though.

To be fair, things haven’t really changed, pre-watershed.

Should Susanna Reid utter any of these words on Good Morning Britain we dare say Ofcom will hear from a few disgruntled viewers. But if you’re Faye on Love Island? Heck, you’ve probably said all of these before the first ad break.

Sharing the list to his Twitter followers this week, Smith wrote: ‘Discovered these old lists of words you could/ couldn’t say on TV in the 80s. Like 3 rude poems.’

The post has since gone viral, with punters sharing their chuckles at the dedication to noting what could and could not be said, with a Twitter user laughing: ‘Imagine being fine with “sh*t” but drawing the line at “jesus christ”…lmfao.’

One follower mused: ‘Religious programming was very weird back then. “And then that guy, you know the one I’m talking about, JC… He cured a leper and… What? No, not Clarkson!”,’ as many others brought up the use of ‘smegma’ (a, er, secretion, if you must know the definition) in series Red Dwarf.

Finding the list at home in Only Fools And Horses, another added: ‘I was reading the middle list with Del Boys voice in my head! Where did “plonker” fall?’

And one merely felt the list was a transcript of their conversation, noting: ‘I think I’ve said all those at least twice today.’

It was suggested in the comments the list came from the BBC, however it’s Metro.co.uk’s understanding the list is not recognised by the broadcaster.


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What is Ofcom and what does it cover?

Ofcom is the regulator for the communications services that we use and rely on each day.

The watchdog makes sure people get the best from their broadband, home phone and mobile services, as well as keeping an eye on TV and radio.

Ofcom deals with most content on television, radio and video-on-demand services, including the BBC. However, if your complaint is about something you saw or heard in a BBC programme, you may need to complain to the BBC first.

Its rules for television and radio programmes are set out in the Broadcasting Code.

The rules in the Broadcasting Code also apply to the BBC iPlayer.

This Broadcasting Code is the rule book that broadcasters have to follow and it covers a number of areas, including; protecting the under-18s, protecting audiences from harmful and/or offensive material and ensuring that news, in whatever form, is reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality.

Audiences can complain to Ofcom if they believe a breach of the Broadcasting Code has been made.

Every time Ofcom receives a complaint from a viewer or listener, they assess it to see if it needs further investigation.

If Ofcom decide to investigate, they will include the case in a list of new investigations, published in the Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin.

An investigation is a formal process which can take some time depending on the complexity of the issues involved.

Ofcom can also launch investigations in the absence of a complaint from a viewer or listener.

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