The ASA rules

l-word poster
The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled in favour of Living TV’s poster campaign for its lesbian drama, The L-word. It received 650 complaints.

The Authority noted that Living TV had sought Copy Advice and taken care in the siting of the posters. It acknowledged that the posters had offended some people, nevertheless, the Authority considered that the images were not sexually explicit and accurately reflected the contents of the TV programme. It concluded that the posters were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, be seen as degrading to women or unsuitable to be seen by children.

(Thanks to Andrew in the comments)

34 Responses to “The ASA rules”

  1. Hector says:

    “Living TV argued that the images contained nothing that members of the public had not seen in posters before.”

    Well actually I’d go rather further than that. The L-word pictures I’ve seen contain nothing that all women could see every morning when they have a shower if they so wished (so that’s 50% sorted).

    Most men could see the same thing every night (if they ask nicely and invite the wife’s sister round…. or her mother).

    Maybe those that wish to censor us simply aren’t getting any.

    I think I might be onto something here.

  2. Marc says:

    OMG – the wife’s mother (makes sign of the cross) what a horrid thought. Come to think of it – the wife’s navel – not a pretty sight after all those pies!

    I thought it was a very tame poster and perfectly proper – maybe the objection is more to the program (which hadn’t been broadcast then) than the poster advertising it.

    Hector’s probably right though, it’s a case of “if we’re not having a good time, why should anyone else?”



  3. Shaun Hollingworth says:

    Perhaps the ASA has learned that more people dislike unjust censorship that they might have thought would, and have therefore decided to put a bit more proper researched judgement behind their adjudications….

  4. Hector says:

    Marc, I am concerned. Does your wife keep pies in her navel? Handy for a picnic I would admit.

    I keep fluff in mine.

    See your point about the MIL – sorry it was a rather sick joke.

  5. Christopher Shell says:

    ‘Not sexually explicit’
    (a) fails to acknowledge that this is a sliding scale,
    (b) fails to acknowledge that this is a sliding scale where ‘drawing the line’ is almost impossible to do with accuracy.

    Which is always the case when the question one is asking is ‘How far can we go?’ as opposed to ‘How can I make as good a programme as possible?’.

  6. tom p says:

    but the adverts aren’t sexually explicit. i’d say it’s easy to draw a (note the indefinite article) line – how about no boobs no pubes = not sexually explicit. That would appear to be the ASA’s line and, given that any line is going to have people on one side or the other, it’s as good a place as any to draw it.

  7. Marc says:

    Hellooooooooooo…. (5) It’s an advert – what you read into it is up to you. It’s a drama aimed a considerable section of female society and I’d venture to suggest, probably a larger number than actually attend church on a regular basis.

    Must be awful lonely here being the only person to consistently agree with the idiots we all make fun of!

  8. Christopher Shell says:

    Tom’s line is not a line, though I agree it is about as definite as one can get. There is an infinite number of ways of stretching it, finding loopholes etc. – all that is needed is a bit of imagination.

    I dont understand your 2nd point. The point of a debate is not to avoid being lonely but to succeed in being right (not that any of us do always succeed in this) – or, rather, finding the right answer. Surely you wouldnt lie about your convictions for the sake of avoiding being lonely? Loneliness and correctness are 2 separate and unrelated questions – we can discuss each of them in turn – but what we cannot do is confuse them.

    Your 1st point is odd. The way you talk, one would think one could ‘read into’ the advert whatever one wanted. Simplistic souls like me could have sworn it had something to do with a woman in underwear with fingers pointing towards her nether regions, in the context of advertising a programme about lesbianism. But maybe if someone else said it reminded them of two polar bears and a pink rabbit, they would be equally entitled to a hearing.

  9. Christopher Shell says:

    As for the stats, I dont know why one would treat the UK as normative. You probably knowe as well as I do that the 20th century was far and away the century of the greatest CHristian expansion, mostly in Latin America, Africa and S.E. Asia. UK weekly church attendance is about 7%, from which one would estimate about 10% of all UK women (given that many more women than men attend church). 10% would also, one imagines, be the highest estimate for the number of UK women who are lesbians (as opposed to bisexual) – tho’ it has also struck me as being a suspiciously round number. So how one could tell which of the groups (UK churchgoing women and UK lesbians) was more numerous, I don’t know.
    It’s clear which of the 2 you want to be more numerous, and it is this ‘believing what you want to believe’ that would (if you ever indulged in it) rule you out from participation in serious, even-handed, objective debate.
    Sorry to be a total swine!!

  10. Andrew Nixon says:

    Almost a fortnight without any stats from the “Doctor”. I almost missed him. Of course, as is often the case, the alleged Doctor supplies no source for his stats.

    Of course your 10% figures are questionable, and don’t really apply, as there are some women who would be in both groups.

    How can a rule of “no tits and no pussy” possibly be bent Christopher?

    And this one

    It’s clear which of the 2 you want to be more numerous, and it is this ‘believing what you want to believe’ that would (if you ever indulged in it) rule you out from participation in serious, even-handed, objective debate.

    That made me chuckle a lot, as most people here would probably say that applied to you more than anyone.

  11. mark c says:

    of course, there are plenty of people other than gay or bisexual women would want to watch a program with lesbian characters – including a large proportion of heterosexual men, so it is besides the point to argue that there are more offended christians than lesbians, or whatever…

  12. Marc says:

    No Chris, I wouldn’t lie about my convictions any more than I would walk into a Jewish area of new york brandishing a banner emblazened with the phrase, “I hate Kikes!” or into a Muslim area with a sign protesting that Mohammed was a Paedophile.

    Andrew is quite right about the pot calling the kettle black. Church attendance in the UK is down to a virtual all-time low; sufficiently so as to cause a note of alarm amongst professional believers. All this in spite of many people identifying themselves as Christian at the last census. I fully expect (and intend to test this theory) that if you press most of these people they won’t really understand what Christianity is about other than so-called Christian festivals like Christmas… Perhaps they are frightened that if someone hears they are not Christian, they will not be able to celebrate Christmas: i.e. get p*ssed at the annual office do, shag the office slapper and exchange pointless gifts with relatives they hate.

    I have engaged in many debates but always with all the facts to hand; but this isn’t a debate – it’s a site where we (well, most of us anyway) make fun of the Christian Right and others who seek to control what we can say, read, watch or even think. People like you, Chris.

  13. Shaun Hollingworth says:

    It’s a bit of a bad do, if people cannot tolerate posters such as this. Perhaps they’d be better off living in Iran.
    Do you fancy emigrating there Dr. Shell ?

  14. Joe says:

    10% would also, one imagines, be the highest estimate for the number of UK women who are lesbians (as opposed to bisexual) – tho’ it has also struck me as being a suspiciously round number.

    Magnificent, Christopher, quite magnificent. Produce numbers out of your backside then attack them for being “suspiciously round”. Bravo.

  15. Christopher Shell says:

    Hi Joe
    10% for homosexuals is as old as the hills (Kinsey), & has recently been subjected to a bit of downsizing. Ive never heard an estimate above 10%. And, yes, 10% is as round a figure as one can get – too round for the real world.

    I dont understand the point about church attendance in the UK. Everyone knows it has been falling for 35 years – but what is so normative or privileged about the UK? One could equally quote the massive growth in Africa, SE Asia and Latin America which made the 20th century far and away the biggest century of Christian expansion.
    The leap from ‘such and such is true of the UK’ to ‘such and such is true of the universe’ needs to be explained.

    Hi Shaun-
    I agree: there are only two possible options. Over-libertinism, or over-repression.

    Hi Marc-
    Christian Right? What did I vote at the last election? How many elections have I voted conservative? (Or, for that matter, BNP, but let’s not go there….)

  16. Christopher Shell says:

    Hi Andrew-
    All Christian stats can be obtained (for the UK) from the publications of Peter Brierley, and (for the world, which is more relevant) from those of David Barrett. Brierley, ‘Painting by Numbers’, gives 9% church membership, 7% average Sunday church attendance (pp 34-41).

    Th point about some women being in both groups I don’t get. This wouldn’t affect the stats either way, since 10% (or whatever) lesbians and 10% Christian women wouldn’t need to add up to 20% of the female population to remain valid stats.

    Brierley (92) gives the following figures: women make up 61% of English churchgoers, 67% of Welsh, 60% of Scotch. From that one would suggest that 9-10% of UK females and about 5% of UK males are churchgoers.

    Apologies for any time I have given unsourced stats – I know how annoying it is. In return cd you give a source for the ‘alleged’ status of my qualifications.
    I had a master at school who claimed to be PhD Hanoi University – Hanoi University had conveniently burned down in the interim, but in the end it was discovered that his claims were to be taken with a pinch of salt!

  17. Shaun Hollingworth says:

    “Hi Shaun-
    I agree: there are only two possible options. Over-libertinism, or over-repression.”

    Then morally, surely you’ll agree the correct position is liberty Dr Shell ?

    Whilst I agree with a certain amount of restriction in *public places* there are people making a career out of feigned offence usually on behalf of other people. What I watch in my private space, unless specifically illegal because of proven harm, should be up to me. In a free country men or women should be free to “degrade” themselves for the camera if they wish. I am patently SICK AND TIRED of the Dr. Shells of this world and their moralising and campaining to try and restrict what I may watch, in my PRIVATE space.

    In Spain they allow hardcore porn to be broadcast on Hispasat, free to air, for anyone who cares to tune in. Here the “TellyBan” (IE Ofcom) won’t even allow it, encrypted for subscribers only, with PIN number protection…

    Free country ?


  18. Andy L says:

    Christopher – the incident of Christians outside the UK is completely irrelevant, as this advert was not used outside of the UK, and consequent discussions of it’s appeal are thus logically limited to UK residents.

    One would also point out that that reseach is, for fairly obvious reasons, quite heavily biased, and it is no great surprise that it’s numbers are a great deal higher than several other studies, that pretty much universally put church attendence in the UK at between 2 and 3%.

  19. Andrew Nixon says:

    You are the one who claimed to be a doctor. As you are making a claim, it is you who must back it up. If you can provide it I will cease calling you an alleged Doctor.

  20. Marc says:

    Andrew, the only reference I could find to a Dr C. Shell, (PhD or MD) was one Colin Shell an archeologist; I did track down a certain Chris Shell listed at a London-based Christian book publisher ( where no claim of academic qualifications is made (for any staff). Of course, circumstantial evidence like that that doesn’t prove anything, it might be just coincidence. However, if this is the same C. Shell, it seems odd that he would waste an immense education working for a little-known fringe publisher; surely PhD’s are in greater demand than that.

  21. Joe says:

    Dovewell is “a division of Kensington Temple church”, to which ‘our’ Dr Shell is most definitely connected (in fact, temptingly, a poke about the Kensington Temple website turns up a photo of one “Chris Shell”…)

  22. Marc says:

    Hi Hector, didn’t notice till now you’d observed the crack about the wiff’s belly! It’s the sort of place where sane men fear to tred, old mate. The rest of here more than makes up for it thankfully.

  23. Christopher Shell says:

    Looks like Joe is closer to the Sherlock mantle than Marc. Marc is right on my identity, however (though what is so interesting about my identity I dont know) – but I scarcely work in publishing, more in retail.
    Here we are in a world full of zillions of doctors – so what is the big deal? Joe with his MI5 skills can try out a Fens institution, keyword ‘ecstasy’, and see what he comes up with.
    It’s a fine pass we’ve come to where one can *assume* people are telling porkies, now isnt it? Tut!

    Your 2-3% intrigues me, as even the press tend to quote 7%. Nor do I know any church statisticians who go into greater depth than Brierley, Johnstone (Operation World) and Barrett. But Id be intrigued to get chapter and verse from you.

    Sorry about my sledgehammer ‘wit’ being rather heavy – it seems to have been so heavy this time that it went unspotted. There are of course plenty more options than just 2.

  24. tom p says:

    Christopher did, a couple of months ago, reply to me in a comments section that his PhD was from Cambridge university and the thesis was on ecstasy and altered states of consciousness.
    A quick google (from the uk) for chris shell ecstasy shows the veracity of his statement. From the first page of results you can find Tyndale House, a bible studies research centre and a college of Cambridge University, which lists him and a subject of Ecstasy in the NT.

  25. tom p says:

    Although, on the subject of Christopher’s veracity, it should be noted that he has also said that he’s not associated with the Kensington Temple and that he only went there a few times some time ago, despite him quite clearly working for them

  26. Marc says:

    Assumption is a dangerous game Chris. Postulating that I record here everything I know about a given fact is as arrogant as it is blindingly foolish. I recorded all the details since revealed with the webmaster some time ago, but only felt it necessary to expose a few tidbits for others to pick at.

    Tom, I would be interested to read Chris’s Thesis; even though I couldn’t find it publshed anywhere, doesn’t mean it does not exist. Google Scholar doesn’t list it as being cited anywhere and quite what ecstasy has to do with the NT is anyone’s guess. My own books are never cited in academia, only on the web but since they are not theoretical, that’s hardly surprising.

    Peyote, hashish or even perhaps raw cocaine but I was of the opinion (perhaps wrongly) that ecstasy was a 20th Century invention. (I note that the Spanish catholics taxed the use of cocoa leaves as a source of income for the church in the 17th Century. Another beautiful example of the double-standards the Christians are historically known for; can you imagine it now? “Pope arrested: charged with being drug baron!”)

    The Kensington Temple is an interesting place. I listened to Colin Dye waffle on for a while on Possessing the land; the promised land. He’s really quite frightening the way he justifies how “God” was pissed off with a bunch of people (the Cananites, Hitites, (ites, mites, shites, etc. [OK, OK, I added “shites”]) that he allegedly created in his own image) so he tells another bunch of pople (who record the events) to go and flush them out. This isn’t the only event like this in the bible, but it’s still used today to justify murdering innocent people who occupy the “promised” lands.

    Dye also claims that (around 5-7 mins in) “Jesus is coming” (he doesn’t say when) and that the enemies are the evil things operating through us. Glad we cleared that up then: I’m not evil, Colin, I’m just possessed by unseen powers.

    This is different from the preachings of radical muslim clerics, HOW? (That’s a rhetorical question, Chris).

  27. tom p says:

    I understand it was on ecstasy as a state of mind, like bliss, rather than the drug.
    Either that or it’s a tract on the drug habbits of developers of the New Technology system architecture for Windows.

  28. Marc says:

    Ah I geddit. You mean altered states of mind in the New Testament, not pre-XP users using mind-altering drugs. Of course, only Chris can really clear that one up. Perhaps you’d be kind enough to publish your findings as a PDF for us all to read, Chris?

    It’s always interested me how people get PhDs or (doctorates in theology) in widely disputed (and unprovable) histories. It’s high time we woke up to the threat posed by this sort of stupidity and told the idiots where to stick their unprovable theories: Anthony Browne writes in today’s Times newspaper on the British naivety regarding the threat we face in Islam and Carl Sagan (in Demon Haunted World) applies much the same arguments to credulous nature of the US. Today, nearly half the US population believes in a creator god and throws science and reason to the wind while embracing the simple, yet fatally flawed, solutions of ID in much the same was as they accept the veracity of alien abduction without question.

    Jesus is coming (back), the idiots tell us. He’s been coming for a bloody long time and he still hasn’t got here; I got sick of waiting a long time ago. My understanding is that when Jesus is said to have referred to the day of judgement, he was alluding to the 1st century; and yet, 1900 years later, we’re all still here. Now I don’t have “experts” like Colin Dye to fall back upon, only my own research so I’m open to correction. But that is what a proper scientist and free-thinker does!

    When I formulate a hypothesis, I share it with my peers and try to shoot it down or offer proofs for it. I don’t criticise people for proving me wrong, I accept the correction and re-formulate the idea based on the newly gained knowledge. Some years ago, I wrote a complex article on a computing issue that I thought I understood well and made a basic error that I should have spotted. As I was considered a guru on the subject, my editor published the result to rapturous screams of “Oi! That’s wrong!” In the next available issue, I had to make a rather red-faced admission that I was indeed in error. I continued to write, only in future, I was rather more careful to check my facts.

    Religion, conversely, does not allow itself to be critically examined because its practioners know all too well that it cannot stand any serious investigation. Had a similar mistake been made by a even a minor preacher, I doubt anyone would have the guts to contradict them. Even today, to disagree with religious ideas is punishable by death in parts of the world.

    Just occasionally, religions do admit to mistakes, but not without pressure and good reason. Pope JP2 apologised for the inquistion and the association Pope Pious had with the Nazis during WWII, but cynics have argued that the old sod was simply so scared that Jesus might show up again for the turn of the 2nd millenium he was just covering his bases.

    I am currently checking the veracity of a horrifying story I read only last night about the Catholic church forgiving children for seducing preists. Yes, you did read that correctly. It’s been claimed (and I need to check this) that the Catholics have forgiven CHILDREN for tempting priests into seducing them; in effect, letting the paedophiles off the hook. I truly hope this vile story turns out to be a falsehood and I’m keeping an open mind, but what if it is true? Either way, it will certainly make for an interesting passage in my book.

  29. Monitor says:

    So it seems Tom and I were pretty close to the truth when we first guessed (comments 8,9,10) that Shell’s PhD was something to do with the bible, accredited by a bible college.

    Wonder why Christopher didn’t come clean straight away? Stating that his PhD was “from Cambridge in ecstasy and altered states of consciousness” sounds more impressive, I suppose.

    Not exactly honest these Christians, are they? Not exactly liars, but not exactly honest either.

    I guess if you spend your whole life deceiving yourself (about the creator of the universe really loving you, about there being no plausible alternative to the gospel versions of the beginning of Xianity, etc etc), you don’t think twice about deceiving other people.

  30. Marc says:

    I managed to track down the source of the story about the Pope allegedly forgiving children for seducing preists to “” which, while not directly searchable to non-subscribers is the clear source of the original 2002 story and is clearly a spoof that preys on the reader’s willingness to believe the Catholic church would preach such things; which, given it’s history, is not entirely without possbility.

    Amazingly (or perhaps not) quite a number of people actually believed it without even checking further; one comments that the pope granted the Onion’s journalist an exclusive audience. Even when one hates nonsense of religion with the force I do, it pays to apply skepticism especially when faced with such a juicy story like this that appears to justify our negative feelings.

    Jose Alvarez and James Randi spoofed almost the entire TV network of Australia with a thinly veiled pretense based on an invented mystic. People at the network’s news gathering offices were so gullible that they failed to check basic facts such as the existence of the faked US radio station! (Not surprisingly, Penn & Teller played a small part in concocting the apparition). See here for the story.

    Note that while Alverez never intended to deceive people, merely prove that divine visions and demonic possesions are easily absorbed by the masses, he amply demonstrated that once a hoax enters the psyche, it is a lot harder to remove even when clear evidence to the contrary is presented.

    On a larger scale, much the same is true of religion. The only difference is no one can test to see if its all a hoax; even when to the (slightly) trained mind, it’s blindingly obvious.

    As this site features a number of devout skeptics it’s a pleasure to join the bustle and enjoy stories of Steven Green’s embarrasment and miserable failures. I hope that some day, the same poetic justice will be meted on the Peter Vardys of this world for those that place faith before fact are truly the world’s enemies.

  31. Christopher Shell says:

    Hey Monitor-
    What fun to be the topic of such interest!
    (1) Tyndale House is not a college of Cambridge University (indeed, it’s not a college of any description at all), though I suppose it must be affiliated to the University in some way. It’s just a research & residential centre, & has a magnificent biblical studies library. However, I was never officially associated with it, beyond using the library & photocopier, for which I suppose I must have filled in an application form.
    (2) Therefore, so far as I remember, one can’t be a member of Tyndale House, only a resident, not that I was ever that.
    (3) Tyndale House is not a Bible College, though there are or have been theological/bible colleges with similar names, e.g. Tyndale Hall Bristol? It is a research centre for students at other colleges, e.g. my own college Magdalene.
    (4) My thesis did focus on the New Testament in the final chapter, and the New Testament (specifically: the gospels) is the only area in which I am an expert. The first chapter was on ecstasy in various disciplines of study. The second was on ecstasy in various ancient cultures. In other words, all three chapters were on ecstasy/ASCs, but only one of them on the NT.
    (5) I think there’s a confusion between Kensington Temple the organisation and Kensington Temple the Notting Hill church / auditorium. The former I have been officially working for (working within the Christian book trade) for 11 years or so. The latter I have never been a member of, and as I mentioned to Tom earlier, last attended on Feb. 27th, and before that on Nov. 7th.
    (6) The shortcomings of the genre of preaching, pointed out by Marc & others, are something I frequently draw attention to. What is the good of a genre that does not countenance disagreement or even debate? There can be too much correlation between the fervency of the congregants’ ‘Amen’s and the fervency (as opposed to the actual accuracy) of the preacher. Consequently, when I preach (or rather teach) I always do so in an open-ended debate-format, with plenty of opportunity for questions, answers and discussions. This format is more likely to lead to deepened understanding. It does however work best if the leader or leaders are as well-prepared as a preacher would be.

  32. tom p says:

    Aaah, that’s interesting to know about Tyndale House and what it actually is. There was little to be gleaned from there website. Thanks for the info.
    Also, ta for clearing up the confusion between the 2 Kensington Temples. I’m sure you can see how it occured

  33. Monitor says:

    (3) Tyndale House is not a Bible College, though there are or have been theological/bible colleges with similar names, e.g. Tyndale Hall Bristol? It is a research centre for students at other colleges, e.g. my own college Magdalene.
    I apologise.

  34. Christopher Shell says:

    Sure, apologies accepted – the truth is that KT church and organisation are fairly intimately linked in the case of most staff members – but (for reasons which I won’t go into) not in my case.
    Let’s put in a word for bible colleges as well, as Im sure there are plenty of them which are quite innovative places, e.g. my own All Nations Ware.