Vicky Lucas was the subject of a BBC documentary based on facial disfigurement in 2003. After the airing of the show she wrote a column for the BBC website where she criticised various members of the media for incorrect or offensive comments made about her. Amongst those criticised was Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington.
The documentary was aired in August 2003. It was part of a series based around people with various facial deformities.
On the 09 August 2003 Xfm show, Ricky, Stephen and Karl entered into a conversation about the documentary. The documentary was treated the same as most other topical subjects and was considered fair grounds for comedy and parody. Karl remarked that he thought Vicky resembled something out of Channel 4's 'Bo Selecta' (a topical comedy show featuring over-sized novelty masks). Ricky and Steve couldn't help but laugh at Karl's comments.
Karl's comments weren't the only ones to cause a fuss and after much discussion in the media, Vicky Lucas responded with an article on the BBC website. The article discussed the general response to the show, both negative and positive, however according to Vicky, one of the low points was a discussion between Gervais, Merchant and "the producer" on an Xfm radio show. She mentions the comments made about her but also mentions other potentially offensive subjects in the show, Vicky gives her recollection of the discussion and her opinion...;
"...you can imagine the state I was in when I later heard about the remarks made about my face by the producer of a show presented by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant on London indie radio station XFM.
...What happened was this. After jokes about the Elephant Man, Pop Idol’s Rik Waller and 'little midget fellas', the conversation turned to the documentary. To paraphrase, the show’s producer, Karl Pilkington, said, "I saw that documentary ... it made me go 'aaah' ... it makes you realise that when you talk about people on the radio, they are real people who hear what you say."
One of the presenters said, "When do you ever forget they are real people that we talk about?"
To which Karl Pilkington replied, "Sometimes it's hard 'cos they don't look like real people ... that girl was on with the big head ... like Bo Selecta!" This was followed by much laughter from the presenters.
...I’m a living, breathing human being who hurts, and the Bo Selecta remark hurt like hell.
...What also makes me angry is the 'joke' that those of us who look different from the norm are not 'real' people. Well, I'm very real. And if I don’t get a grovelling apology pretty soon, I will personally go down to the XFM headquarters and ... well, I'll leave that up to your imaginations."
Response From Karl
The topic was brought up again on Xfm and Ricky asked Karl how he felt. Karl replied that he never intended to offend and that he just said what he thought. After this the subject wasn't mentioned again and no further action was taken by Vicky.
Vicky's response; http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/features/what_were_they_staring_at.shtml