Hellraiser Louise Redknapp is at it again. After a year where she has displayed some truly appalling behaviour like making female friends, deciding to separate from her husband because she was unhappy and returning to work because she missed it, she has now gone and sworn on live television.
Viewers of the BBC’s It Takes Two were variously outraged and horrified as Redknapp did the unthinkable.
She was performing her classic single 2 Faced (number three in 2000!) when she sang the line “stop your bitchin’” and, despite this shocking transgression, she was not promptly rugby-tackled away from the microphone by a BBC head honcho.
Of course, sometimes we’re fine with women swearing. Adele can declare her Glastonbury slot “fucking amazing” and be the nation’s sweetheart. Helen Mirren is a regular potty mouth and there’s barely a breakfast TV show sofa she hasn’t apologised on for turning the air blue. But she’s Helen Mirren.
Normally when women swear, they are punished for it. In 2010, when Jenny Slate accidentally said “fucking” during her debut sketch on Saturday Night Live, she was let go at the end of the season.
And despite the responsibility for swearing protocol lying with the BBC, the media jumped at the opportunity to tear another strip off Redknapp, even though the infraction was so minor it actually took The Pool several minutes to work out exactly what terrible word Redknapp was supposed to have sung was as we counted asterisks on our fingers. So, why the outrage?
When Redknapp first released 2 Faced in 2000, it was just after the rebellious 90s, when ladettes were lauded for their filthy language and every tabloid had a Gallagher brother or an Appleton giving the paps the finger. She was hardly a rebel.
But Louise Redknapp is more ripe for punishment than practically any woman in the UK public eye this year. After having the audacity to concede that her picture-perfect family life had not been the joy-filled paradise it had appeared, revealing that she had made personal sacrifices for her husband and children and admitting that she had rediscovered herself in her forties after a stint on Strictly, Redknapp became a pariah.
It actually took The Pool several minutes to work out exactly what terrible word Redknapp was supposed to have sung as we counted asterisks on our fingers
So, instead of ignoring this as a non-story that might have had a few prudes clutching their pearls, this became the latest misstep in Redknapp’s systematic destruction of her reputation.
Presumably, she had covertly planned this foul-mouthed tirade without a single producer having any knowledge of it. She cleverly picked a song from a mere 17 years ago that no one could possibly have been aware of and must have mumbled the word in rehearsals and soundcheck so that she could bring the corporation crumbling down on a Thursday teatime.
Even though, in 2016, Ofcom helpfully categorised 150 of the rudest words in the English language so we know exactly how bad they are. And “bitch” falls in the medium category, meaning it is “potentially unacceptable pre-watershed but acceptable post-watershed".
Meaning that context dictates whether it’s OK or not. If Redknapp was screaming at Alex Jones and calling her a “stupid bitch” for example, that might be worth a raised eyebrow. But sung (very nicely by Redknapp and her lovely backing singers) in a tune about gossiping behind her back, it’s probably not the worst behaviour ever seen on British TV. That dubious honour would be more deserved by this very sore loser in Come Dine With Me, or the guy who stormed off Robot Wars because he lost to some children.
Redknapp has been prime fodder for the tabloids that have struggled to know how to cover a grown woman making decisions for herself that diverted from the Perfect Wife And Mother narrative they expect from their ex-pop stars, and swearing on television has provided just one more opportunity to harangue her.
At least it makes a change from headlines establishing the precise location of both Redknapp and her husband Jamie’s wedding rings at all times, but in all the uproar, the tabloids may have missed the message: when it comes to Louise Redknapp, stop bitchin’, OK?