Channel 10 and the celebrity cast of hit show Have You Been Paying Attention? have landed themselves in hot water after making light of the death of Thai King, Bhumibol Adulyadej, on Monday night.
In response, the country’s ambassador to Australia Chirachai Punkrasin has penned a scathing letter, chastising the network for “mocking people who are feeling intense grief at the passing of their monarch”.
The segment – which Channel 10 has since apologised for and removed from its social media platforms and website – included a video of a Thai woman wailing over the King’s passing.
The cast’s reaction to the footage was branded by Punkrasin as “very inappropriate, disrespectful, and certainly not amusing”.
“While it may not be the intention of the Network 10 to cause offence, the programme needs to show greater cultural sensitivity and media professionalism when it deals with a topic that makes reference to another country, institution or culture,” the letter continued.
Monday night’s panel comprised of comedians Peter Helliar, Ed Kavalee, Sam Pang, Jane Kennedy and Celia Pacquola.
Speaking to Fairfax Media, a Channel 10 spokesperson apologised for any offence caused, and said a letter has been sent to the ambassador in Canberra.
“In no way was any disrespect intended and we sincerely regret any distress caused,” he said.
“The video has been taken down from Ten’s website and other social channels, and will be edited to remove this segment, prior to the episode being broadcast or made available again.”
A subsequent tweet was also sent out by the TV show’s producers.
But the apology was too little too late for some viewers, who were hurt by the show’s error in judgment.
“[It’s] damn rude to use our sadness and deep sorrow when our King died,” one reply read, another: “This has overstepped the mark and offended a lot of Thai people.”
“We’re so proud of our community coming together to pay respect to our late King yet you mock us when we’re trying to grieve.”
Thailand will customarily be in a state of mourning for the next year in honour of the world’s longest-serving monarch, who was 88 when he died one week ago. His life as a leader was an unlikely one; he only received the throne after his 20-year-old brother was mysteriously shot in 1946.