BBC presenter Justin Webb condemned for citing trans comedian in debate on men flashing

Jordan Gray wears a pink suit as she sings into a microphone during her Channel 4 Friday Night live performance

A BBC presenter has been criticised for linking a serious story about flashing and sexual harassment against women to Jordan Gray’s nude comedy performance on Channel 4 last year.

Three women were interviewed on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday (7 March) about their experiences of being flashed at in London after it was found that disgraced police officer Wayne Couzens exposed himself to several women before murdering Sarah Everard in 2021.

Today Programme presenter Justin Webb then interviewed MP Dame Diana Johnson about whether the police take flashing seriously enough.

After Johnson mentioned that flashing has been “laughed about” in the past and needs to be taken seriously as a sexual offence, Webb compared flashing to Gray’s 2022 performance, despite Channel 4 airing a nudity warning beforehand.

“I’m interested to hear what you said about ‘laughing at’ and ‘joking at’ because under very different circumstances, but still something that a lot of women found offensive, there was a comedian, Jordan Gray, who stripped off on Channel 4 last year,” Webb said. 

“There were many complaints, people saying it was ‘disgraceful’, people saying that it was ‘misogynistic’, but Ofcom said ‘no it wasn’t’, and Channel 4 was rather proud of it.

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“I just wondered, more broadly in society, whether the idea that people who don’t want to see the male body should be allowed not to, is something that we’ve slightly lost.”

‘A beautiful moment of trans expression’

Following the broadcast of the planned, rehearsed and trailed C4 performance, TV regulator Ofcom told PinkNews it received 1,644 complaints about the incident, where Jordan Gray bared it all to play the keyboard with her penis to her song “Better Than You”.

Ofcom said it would not investigate the “post-watershed comedy and music show” further.

Alex Mahon, C4’s chief executive, also backed the performance.

“She’s trans and she stripped naked at the end of the performance and that was the first time, I think, really on mainstream television you see a trans body and what that looks like,” Mahon said.

“That’s really important, it was a beautiful moment of trans expression. It was lovely,” she added.

Webb’s comments were criticised after his programme aired for comparing the harrowing experiences of flashing that the three women had opened up about, to a comedy show that had been preceded with nudity warnings.

“Justin Webb just brought up Jordan Gray’s performance on Channel 4 in the context of flashing and other sexual offences. He did not mention that the nudity in that TV show was trailed in continuity announcements. Absolutely grim and dishonest connection being made there,” one Twitter user explained.

One person called his comments “utterly contemptible” while another Twitter user called the comparison unwarranted when speaking about the “dangers women face”.

Before the discussion about Jordan Gray, the three women interviewed explained that they had all been singled out and flashed at while walking alone. One of them women said she did not report the incident to the police because she was afraid it “would not achieve anything,” while another said she felt “violated”. 

Gray’s performance was part of a one-off return special of the 1980s comedy series Friday Night Live. She sang a comedic song about her experiences as a trans woman before stripping naked in front of the crowd.

“The best thing about live TV is doing stupid stuff like this,” she quipped before taking off her bright pink suit. 

Jordan Gray explained that she “cried on the way home” after her performance due to the sheer volume of positive comments she received. 

“If one person’s life was made a little better, it was worth it. It was so cool I got to move the needle a tiny bit,” she said. 

PinkNews has contacted the BBC for comment.