May 6, 2008 / 12:51 AM / in 9 years

Strewth! Aussie Catholics call foul on TV chef

<p>British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay stands in the kitchen of his restaurant "Gordon Ramsay at the London" at the London NYC Hotel in New York in this November 16, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Mike Segar</p>

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia’s Catholic church has taken a swipe at foul-mouthed British chef Gordon Ramsay and demanded his reality television shows be either taken off air or shown at a later time.

The move comes as Australia’s parliament holds an inquiry into swearing on television, prompted by Ramsay’s antics in his series Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen from the U.K and the United States, now broadcast three nights a week in Australia.

One episode broadcast recently featured Ramsay using a four-letter expletive more than 80 times, while he also shouts at a chef saying: “You French pig.”

“There can be no excuse for vilification of this sort. We conclude that this episode should never have been aired on Australian television,” the Catholic church in the southern city of Adelaide said in a submission to the parliamentary inquiry.

The row comes a year after authorities in Britain banned an Australian tourism advertising campaign as offensive for using a bikini-clad model who asked “Where the bloody hell are you?.”

Ramsay’s reality programs are popular ratings drawcards in Australia, but they have also prompted complaints from schools and parent groups who are angry that the shows are broadcast at times when children may be watching television.

Two of the Ramsay programs air at 8:30 p.m., while one of the shows, Hell’s Kitchen, where contestants compete to win a restaurant, is aired at a later 9:30 p.m. time slot.

Australian television networks operate a code of practice related to swearing, violence and nudity, but the code is self regulating and complaints can take several months to be addressed by Australia’s communications watchdog.

Conservative Senator Cory Bernardi initiated a Senate inquiry into swearing after his office received several complaints about Ramsay’s programs.

The inquiry has received more than 50 public submissions, with the overwhelming majority in favor of tighter regulation and calling for the Nine television network, which broadcasts the programs, to censor Ramsay.

But the Council for Civil Liberties in Australia’s largest state of New South Wales said it has no problems with Ramsay’s programs, which regularly attract more than 1 million viewers.

“This inquiry is yet another attempt to restrict the freedom of expression of ordinary Australians. Not everyone is offended by coarse language,” the council said in its submission.

Editing by David Fox

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