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Media Terms: BBC Hot Wash

Simon Pitt | Television | Tuesday 16th February 2010

Definition: The process undergone by new presenters when they move from independent broadcasters to the BBC. With its strict editorial policies and compliance regulations, the BBC has to be careful when recruiting new presenters, particularly those that are known for their risqué material.

This presents something of a double bind for the BBC. On the one hand, they want to recruit the most popular new entertainers, but on the other hand, the thing that makes these entertainers popular often isn't suitable for broadcasting to the broad audience that the BBC aims for.

Consequently, in an attempt to appease everyone from Nan through grumpy adolescent Olag to two-year-old-pooping-machine Barney, the BBC attempts to sanitise their new recruit. By cutting out the more offensive material they try to prevent them from offending anyone. Unfortunately, rather than appealing to everyone, this strategy often leaves their new entertainer bland and lifeless, appealing to no one, not even the ignorant saps who thought his slightly offensive, swear-filled material was funny when it was on Channel 4 at 11pm.

Coined by: Janice Hadlow

Spotted: Spoken by Jay Hunt at a BBC Internal Talk entitled Let Me Entertain You in May 2009.
There's a phrase that Janice Hadlow uses which I think is very funny which is things being put through the BBC Hot Wash. I'm sure you're all aware of that phenomenon when we take someone from the outside world and we BBC them up, and thereby on occasions can be in danger of taking all their sparkle out because they lose their edge.

Examples: Before this Jay Hunt says, "How could we get Graham Norton back to the sort of person he had been on Channel 4". Although she's quick to say that she thinks they're doing a good job with him on BBC One, it's quite clear that she things he's had a quick spin at 90 degrees. After all, on the BBC, Norton is put in charge of humourless dross in a vain attempt to create entertainment out of nothing.

As Stuart Jeffries wrote in The Guardian, "There was a moment on Graham Norton's Totally Saturday show recently when I swear I saw him die a little inside". Even Jonathan Ross said he felt sorry for Norton. Now that must have hurt.



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