Media watchdog Ofcom has not upheld a complaint that Channel 5 show Celebrities: What’s Happened To Your Face was “unjust and unfair” to former Geordie Shore star Charlotte Crosby.
The documentary series, which aired in April last year, explored whether four well-known celebrities may have had cosmetic alterations.
It featured medical professionals, journalists and people who knew Crosby, reviewing photographs and discussing how they considered her face had changed over time.
A complaint was lodged to Ofcom on behalf of 32-year-old Crosby, claiming the programme had treated her unjustly and unfairly as it included a number of statements which were the “worst, cruellest comments that trolls have made online over the years” and had been “devastating” and “hurtful” to Crosby.
The complaint also said the broadcast had provided a platform for “social media trolling comments” on mainstream TV, and therefore the programme had “elevated” these comments to a larger audience.
In later submissions to Ofcom, Crosby added that, as a result of the comments aired on TV, older members of her family who do not have access to social media were made aware of their existence.
In making their decision, Ofcom said: “We had regard to Channel 5’s submissions that Ms Crosby is a high-profile reality TV star and TV presenter with a significant social media presence.
“At the time the broadcaster submitted its response to the complaint, Ms Crosby had 7.3 million followers on Instagram, 773,600 followers on TikTok, 2.8 million followers on Twitter, 2.3 million followers on Facebook, and over 429,000 YouTube subscribers.
“We also took into account that, based on the articles supplied by Channel 5, it appeared to Ofcom that Ms Crosby had spoken openly to the media in the past about her cosmetic procedures and the negative reaction she had received, including on her own social media platforms.
“We acknowledged that in such circumstances, it was reasonable to conclude that Ms Crosby might likely expect that members of the public may draw their own conclusions about the type of cosmetic treatments she had received, and for those views to be expressed to her publicly.”
In Ofcom’s view, the comments made by the medical professionals on the show “generally amounted to a critical dissection of Ms Crosby’s personal appearance based on their view of the cosmetic surgery she had undergone”, although they recognised it would have the potential to be upsetting and distressing.
The report added that “it would have been clear to viewers” that the medical professionals were “providing their own professional judgments as to the cosmetic treatments that they believed Ms Crosby had received”.
On Monday, Ofcom ruled that the programme did not “present, disregard or omit material facts” in a way that was unjust or unfair to Crosby and the way she had been portrayed “was not likely to have materially and adversely affected viewers’ opinions of her in a way which was unfair to her”.
The regulator said: “In conclusion, Ofcom considered that, in the particular circumstances of this case, the broadcaster had taken reasonable care to satisfy itself that material facts had not been presented, disregarded or omitted in a way that was unfair to Ms Crosby.
“We therefore did not consider that the broadcaster’s decision to include the comments subject to the complaint in the broadcast programme resulted in unfairness to Ms Crosby.”
Despite its decision, Ofcom said it recognised the show caused “upset and distress” to the reality star, noting that the social media comments included in the programme were “particularly unpleasant.”
In a statement, the watchdog added: “However we took into account that these comments were publicly available, they were used to demonstrate that Ms Crosby’s procedures had begun to attract speculation and comment, and, although they were not directly challenged, they were also not explicitly endorsed.
“We also took into account that the programme made clear the opinions of medical experts were their professional views based on a series of photographs of Ms Crosby.
“We found that viewers were given sufficient information to make up their own minds, and their opinions of Ms Crosby were unlikely to have been affected in a way that was unfair to her.”