News

Six kid’s TV episodes you probably didn’t know got banned

Oh, Sam.

Following news that a 2014 episode Fireman Sam has belatedly been pulled from Channel 5’s roster after purportedly showing the titular character stepping on a Koran, we felt it important to highlight the fact Pontypandy’s veteran firefighter is not alone in accidentally offending his young viewership

Plenty of other seemingly inoffensive cartoons have had episodes banned for all kinds of reasons. Here are some of the biggest surprise offenders.

Peppa Pig

When Peppa Pig episode Spider's Web aired last year, showing Peppa meeting a harmless (and brilliantly named) spider called Mr Skinnylegs, the show’s writers taught children that nature should be embraced. Unfortunately, in Australia, where pretty much anything from the outdoors can kill you - especially arachnoids – the message that spiders “were not to be feared” risked endangering the lives of young viewers, and so was swiftly removed from the country’s ABC network.

Bob the Builder

Another globally successful British import and another odd clash of cultures. Yep, even the UK’s cheeriest tradesman wasn’t safe from global censors when Japanese TV execs feared his four fingers were too similar to that of Yakuza gangsters, who chop off their digits as a sign of trust. Could they fix it? Yes they did, altering footage from old eps and giving old Bob an extra digit on each hand.

Pokémon

Oh sure, you’re a keen Pokémon GO player but where were you in the Great Battle of 1997, when armies of viewers were left hospitalized by Pokémon episode Computer Soldier Porygon? Shortly after the episode went out, 600 people were taken to hospital complaining of blurred vision, dizziness and nausea, with some losing consciousness and having to stay there for a matter of weeks - so might not want to be too hasty clicking that clip. Still, ast least it reminds us all of that brilliant Simpsons scene about the dangers of anime

Gargoyles

If you thought the titular heroes of Disney’s cult cartoon Gargoyles were stony-faced, you should have seen US TV censors following the airing of 1997 episode Deadly Force, which showed one of the heroes lying in a pool of their own blood after an accidental shooting. While the show had been praised for tackling big topics, including gun violence, the episode was unsurprisingly pulled from the networks, before eventually returning with all the blood digitally removed.

Dexter's Laboratory

Wrong Dexter? While this young recluse was odd, he was no serial killer, but that didn't stop the mid-nineties show getting into trouble for its episode Dial M for Monkey, roundly criticised for apparent themes of homophobic via its Silver Spooner character. An obvious spoof of Marvel’s Silver Surfer, it was overtly stereotypical, ultra camp and saw the episode banned in the US, UK and Canada, remaining a blot on the series' legacy.

The Clangers

Okay, so this one didn't get pulled, but episode three of the kid's TV classic The Clangers did cause concern from the BBC after execs reviewed the show's script. Allow the show's co-creator Oliver Postgate to explain:

"When the BBC got the script, [they] rang me up and said 'At the beginning of episode three, where the doors get stuck, Major Clanger says “sod it, the bloody thing’s stuck again”. Well, darling, you can’t say that on Children’s television, you know, I mean you just can’t.'

"I said 'It’s not going to be said, it’s going to be whistled', but [they] just said 'but people will know!' I said no, that if they had nice minds, they’d think 'oh dear, the silly thing’s not working properly'.

"If you watch the episode, the one where the rocket goes up and shoots down the Iron Chicken, Major Clanger kicks the door to make it work and his first words are “sod it, the bloody thing’s stuck again”."

You can clearly hear "Sod it" if you skip to 55 seconds in the video above. Filth.