Comic Relief slammed for pre-watershed swearing and technical problems

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The Red Nose Day telethon has been criticised on social media for its "dreadful" technical issues and for the inclusion of pre-watershed profanity.

Comic Relief's fundraising programme aired from 7pm on Friday across BBC One and BBC Two until the early hours of Saturday morning. It was packed with comedy skits, celebrity appearances, musical performances and the highly anticipated Love Actually sequel.

Viewers were divided over several of the comedy segments of the show, including one in which a fake penis was shown before the 9pm watershed, and many were unimpressed as the broadcast was marred by sound problems.

But despite the divisive response from viewers on social media, it was an overall success in fundraising and viewing figures.

The star-studded telethon had raised £71,308,475 by the end of the evening, Comic Relief said, and the hours-long effort was the most-watched show of the day.

An average of 6.2 million viewers tuned in to watch the programme. It scored a peak of 7.6 million.

While the pre-recorded Love Actually film, featuring returning stars including Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley and Colin Firth, was hailed a success, several of the programme's live elements left viewers feeling cold.

Some of the segments were difficult to hear due to the "diabolical" audio. Host Sir Lenny Henry was even forced to ask the studio at London's O2 Arena audience to be quiet.

Many viewers complained they could barely hear what was happening on their TV screens.

One viewer wrote on Twitter: "Hey Lennie the sound is atrocious here too #O2 #RedNoseDay (sic)."

Another added: "The sound on #RedNoseDay is dreadful."

"We pay our licence fee and they can't even get a good sound guy #RedNoseDay," complained another, while one viewer fumed: "#comicrelief considering the O2 is home to 100's of music events each year, the sound tonight is diabolical #RedNoseDay."

One viewer declared it the "worst live show of its history" due to the audio and "really bad" editing.

Another error occurred when, during a televised version of BBC Radio 1's Innuendo Bingo starring I'm A Celebrity's Joel Dommett and radio star Chris Stark, a video failed to play and DJ Scott Mills was forced to improvise and explain the game to the audience.

Later in the evening, a technical glitch prompted host Russell Brand to say "f***ing hell", while a screen appeared at another point to apologise for a fault in the broadcast.

A BBC spokesperson said: "There was a minor technical issue that meant the show was off-air for a minute, but quickly restored."

More complaints flooded in over the use of swearwords before the watershed, including during a Mrs Brown's Boys skit with former JLS star Aston Merrygold.

"@comicrelief Inappropriate content before watershed. Watching with my children before 8pm...inuendos, Mrs Brown?? #RedNoseDay (sic)," one viewer said.

Another added: "@BBCOne The worst #RedNoseDay I've ever watched. Not one funny sketch and 2 different 'comedians' swearing before watershed. Disgusting."

A skit involving Good Morning Britain star Susanna Reid, in which she was jokingly interviewed by Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer in character as The Stotts, drew negative comments after Reeves flashed a fake penis between his legs under a kilt.

One viewer said: "I feel for you @susannareid100. It was awful and cringe worthy #comicrelief #RedNoseDay."

"So Reeves &Mortimer exposing a fake penis to Susanna Reid, talking weird and making her uncomfortable is supposed to be funny? #comicrelief," another asked.

But there was also a lot of love and praise for the charity broadcast, with fans rushing to share what they loved about it on social media.

"Oh wow, the #LoveActually piece in #ComicRelief so great, specially loved the Liam Neesen piece and Hugh Grant final piece, had me in tears (sic)," one Red Nose Day viewer wrote.

Another said they "cried like a baby" over the Love Actually sequel, and plenty of others were in awe of singer Ed Sheeran's charity film and performance, with one hailing him the "star of Comic Relief".