Capital Radio DJ’s ‘insensitive’ joke about Turkey prompts nearly 600 complaints

Ant Payne apologised on Tuesday after facing criticism online.
Ant Payne apologised on Tuesday after facing criticism online.

Ofcom has received 567 complaints about an “insensitive and ill-timed” joke made by Capital Radio DJ Ant Payne about earthquake-hit Turkey.

The presenter, who hosts the 4pm to 7pm slot on the station, said while on-air on Monday that “now is actually the best time” to start looking for “cheap flights” to the country.

He also joked that listeners could “get your teeth done while you are over there” and “come back looking 19 years old”, adding: “You will be on Love Island next year if you are doing that.”

Global’s Make Some Noise Charity Day – London
Ant Payne with singer Olly Murs during Global’s Make Some Noise charity day (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

The broadcasting watchdog said the complaints had been about “the presenter’s reference to Turkey”.

Two earthquakes of magnitude 7.8 and 7.5 struck nine hours apart in south-eastern Turkey and Syria on February 6.

The death toll recently passed 35,000 as rescuers continued to work to reach people trapped under the rubble.

Payne apologised on Tuesday after facing criticism on social media, with Liberal Democrat councillor Suzanne Nuri-Nixon urging him to “read the room”.

He tweeted: “Hi guys, I want to address the comment I made last night on the show.

“It was insensitive and ill timed. I would never wish to offend anyone from my shows. My sincere and wholehearted apologies.”

Payne was previously a presenter on Galaxy FM before joining Capital Radio in January 2011.

The Brit Awards 2023 – Show – London
Sam Smith and Kim Petras perform at the Brit Awards (Ian West/PA)

Ofcom also received 106 complaints about the Brit Awards broadcast on ITV1 on Saturday, with the majority related to Sam Smith’s performance of the hit song Unholy.

The singer, who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, was among the live performers at the event at London’s O2 Arena and took to the stage in black bondage gear and a top hat with devil horns.

The performance, featuring collaborator Kim Petras, ended with a close-up shot of a long kiss between two backing dancers.

The remainder of the complaints about the Brits were about the use of offensive language and consumption of alcohol.

Capital Radio’s parent company Global has been contacted for comment.