The BBC has refused to apologize amid backlash over Graham Norton’s Ukraine joke – insisting “nothing is off-limits”.
Graham, 58, always opens his late-night chat show BBC One with current affairs jokes.
At the beginning of the episode, which aired on February 4, the Irish comic poked fun at Boris Johnson’s refusal to step down as Prime Minister after the ‘Partygate’ scandal before moving on to visit Ukraine.
Graham said: “Boris is still there and this week he flew to Ukraine, or if you’re watching on catch-up TV he flew to south-west Russia.”
While the audience and its celebrity guests, including Courteney Cox and Taron Egerton, laughed, some viewers at home remained undeterred by the joke about the current tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
Many claimed it was an insensitive hoax towards Ukrainians faced with the prospect of a Russian invasion.
However, the BBC defended itself amid demands for an apology, saying in a statement: “We appreciate the seriousness of the current situation there and can assure you that there was no intention to cause offense with these statements.
“Comedy is one of the most subjective areas of programming, and while no subject is off limits, we know that some jokes may resonate differently with those with personal experience in a given situation.”
Meanwhile, viewers of the chat show Friends accused Courteney of being “bored” and “dissociated” during the episode.
Courteney has been on the BBC One chat show to talk about her latest comedy horror series called The Shining Veil.
But viewers felt the Hollywood actress would have preferred to have been elsewhere.
Taking to Twitter, a fan complimented host Graham for “managing” Courteney.
One wrote: “He’s really excellent at managing the guests. It was difficult tonight too – Courteney Cox looked like she wasn’t there at all, almost dissociated.
“Her eyes looked glassy, she didn’t come across like that before.”
Another said: “Courteney Cox looks bored. Such a shame #GrahamNortonShow.”
The Graham Norton Show airs Friday nights on BBC One and is available on BBC iPlayer.
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