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UK Broadcaster Chastised for Airing Gory Alien Scene Immediately After Saturday Cartoons

Image: 20th Century Fox
Image: 20th Century Fox

When British actor John Hurt passed away in January, news editors around the world quickly started broadcasting clips from the actor’s many iconic roles. But it was maybe not the smartest idea for one of them to air Hurt’s most gory (and memorable) movie moment immediately after kids finished watching Saturday morning cartoons.


British broadcaster ITV has been criticized today by the UK Government’s TV regulation body Ofcom for being in breach of the UK’s stringent broadcasting codes—which, among many things, include rules limiting what times TV channels can broadcast mature content. This follows a lengthy investigation into the company’s news program, ITV News, for broadcasting 10 seconds of Hurt’s, uh, explosive Alien death scene at 9:30am on January 28th, immediately after the channel’s block of kid’s shows finished airing.

Although later broadcasts from ITV—like the version above that aired during the 12:30pm bulletin—edited the scene down, the initial version featured a more extensive clip that showed the moment the alien emerges from the body of Hurt’s character, Kane, in one of the most iconic and gory moments in movie history.


The program was found to be in poor taste by Ofcom, considering there was a good chance a lot of kids were still watching the channel after Dino Dan: Trek’s Adventures and What’s New Scooby Doo! finished airing that morning. In fact, Ofcom estimates that up to 19,000 children between four and 15, a sizable 16 percent of the viewing audience at the time, could still have been watching, mortified at what was going on with John Hurt’s chest cavity.

ITV was not fined for the breach of broadcasting codes, but released an apology for the lapse in judgement following today’s ruling. Suffice to say, it probably won’t be running many Alien clips around kids programming blocks any time soon.


James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!

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I watched Alien back when I was pretty young. I don’t think my parents knew what it was (they were usually pretty good about keeping me away from adult content), and they didn’t watch it with me. That scene messed me up all summer. Any time my stomach gurgled, I was sure an alien was about to burst out. Of course, that stress made my stomach gurgle more.