BBC REFUSES to apologise amid backlash over Graham Norton's Ukraine joke – insisting 'nothing is off limits'

THE BBC has refused to apologise amid backlash over Graham Norton's Ukraine joke – insisting 'nothing is off limits'.

Graham, 58, always opens his BBC One late night chat show with jokes about current events.

At the start of the episode that aired on February 4, the Irish comic mocked Boris Johnson's refusal to step down as Prime Minister after the 'partygate' scandal, before moving on to his visit to Ukraine.

Graham said: "Boris still hanging on in there and this week, he flew off to Ukraine, or if you're watching on catch up TV, he flew off to South West Russia."

While the audience and his celebrity guests including Courteney Cox and Taron Egerton laughed, some viewers at home were not impressed by the joke relating to the current tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

Many claimed it was an insensitive joke towards Ukrainians, who are facing the prospect of a Russian invasion.

However, the BBC defended itself amid calls for an apology, saying in a statement: "We appreciate the seriousness of the current situation there and can assure you there was no intention to cause any offence with these remarks.

"Comedy is one of the most subjective areas of programming and while no subject is off limits we appreciate that some jokes may resonate differently for those with personal experience of a particular situation."

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Meanwhile, viewers of the chat show accused Friends actress Courteney of appearing "bored" and "dissociated" during the episode.

Courteney was on the BBC One chat show to talk about her latest comedy-horror series called Shining Veil.

But viewers felt the Hollywood actress would have rather been somewhere else.

Taking to Twitter, one fan complimented host Graham for "managing" Courteney.

"Glazed over"

One wrote: "He really is superb at managing the guests, It was a tough one tonight, too – Courteney Cox looked like she wasn’t present at all, almost dissociated.

"Her eyes looked glazed over, which isn’t how she used to come across."

Another said: "Courteney Cox looks bored. Such a shame #GrahamNortonShow."

The Graham Norton Show airs Friday evenings on BBC One and is available on BBC iPlayer.

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