Essex: TOWIE Slated For Lunchtime Show

ITV has been criticised for airing an episode of The Only Way Is Essex when children would have been watching.

Characters discussed getting drunk and their sex lives in the episode of the constructed reality show.

The instalment, which also featured bleeped and partially bleeped language, was originally broadcast at 10pm but repeated at Sunday lunchtime on ITV2 during the school summer holidays.

Ofcom said it was "concerned about the frequency of bleeping" in the programme, with 20 instances in the half-hour show.

It said that the "bleeping of the words was not always sufficient to mask the language or its impact".

The watchdog concluded that the episode "was not appropriately scheduled so as to protect children".

It said: "We took account of the prominence of these adult themes throughout the programme, and the impact and frequency of the masked language. We concluded that the programme was therefore unsuitable for children."

ITV said it would now attempt to edit out offensive language entirely rather than use bleeping for pre-watershed broadcasts.

It has also decided to stop scheduling the show in weekend daytime or school holiday daytime slots.