Parents were left outraged after CBeebies reportedly used a Michael Jackson song during an educational children’s television programme. Now, the BBC has defended its choice of music from the backlash, saying it was a cover version of the song, so was not directly linked to the Bad singer.
Magic Hands, a show that aims to teach little ones how to use British Sign Language, regularly uses popular tunes and pieces of poetry. But adult viewers were not pleased when an episode that aired on 18 March was set to Jackson 5’s ABC given the recent abuse claims relaunched against the Thriller singer in documentary Leaving Neverland.
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According to The Sun, mother-of-three Stephanie Mara-Cole said: “I was watching Magic Hands with my two-year-old son and was pretty shocked that the entire episode was based around a song sung by Michael Jackson.
“I watched ‘Leaving Neverland’ and couldn’t believe CBeebies hadn’t pulled it from the schedule. Given all the vile things Michael Jackson has been accused of doing to children, it actually make my skin crawl to hear the song.”
Meanwhile, father Christopher Johnson urged the episode to be “pulled from the air indefinitely.”
He added: “Did no one think that teaching small children a Jackson song might be slightly inappropriate?”
In response, a BBC spokesperson insisted that, because the specific rendition of the song used “was recorded and performed by the programme’s own production,” it is not directly linked to Jackson.
“[It’s] for a programme specifically designed for deaf and hard of hearing children.”
A handful of Twitter users agreed with the Beeb’s hard stance on the song choice. One even shared the news that the public service broadcaster had responded to the criticisms and wrote: “Why didn’t the
#bbc just tell them that they were being over sensitive idiots looking for something to complain about?”
Leaving Neverland – which aired on HBO in the US and Channel 4 in the UK – is made up of detailed, first-hand accounts from Wade Robson and James Safechuck, presenting evidence that Jackson groomed and sexually assaulted them in the 1990s.
The Jackson estate, as well as several individuals close to Jackson at the time, have consistently denied the claims.