Singapore radio show draws complaint for making light of domestic violence with ‘scary’ Nigella Lawson joke

One FM

‘The Flying Dutchman’, Glenn Ong and Andre Hoeden

A Singapore radio show has drawn a complaint from a female listener about a joke that appeared to make light of domestic violence.

On Monday’s breakfast show on One FM 91.3, a radio station targeted at men aged 30 and above, a joke was made about Nigella Lawson, a celebrity chef who was pictured being throttled by her former husband, adman Charles Saatchi, the C in M&C Saatchi, in 2013.

British tabloid that featured Lawson pictures

British tabloid that broke Nigella Lawson story

The gag suggested that a Nigella Lawson cookbook contained a glut of healthy recipes so she could stay fit to fight off exes who might try to strangle her in restaurants.

The punchline of the joke was: “What a waste of time. There’s so much better stuff to squeeze on Nigella Lawson.”

The popular breakfast show is hosted by Mark van Cuylenburg, better known as The Flying Dutchman, Glenn Ong and Andre Hoeden.

The listener, who wished to remain nameless, described the segment as “offensive to women and to domestic violence victims everywhere.”

The dialogue, as verified by a media monitoring company, ran as follows:

Glenn Ong:

And finally… Nigella Lawson’s new cookery book has been criticised for featuring too many healthy fad foods. She’s much keener on health foods now as she wants to be strong enough to fight off any of her boyfriends that might try to strangle her in restaurants.

The Flying Dutchman:

I remember that ex-husband. You know, you put your hands around Nigella Lawson’s neck and you squeeze. What a waste of time. There’s so much better stuff to squeeze on Nigella Lawson.

The segment then cut to a song.

Update: Mumbrella has removed the clip after SPH advised the content is subject to copyright restrictions.

The listener, who runs a public relations agency, told Mumbrella: “As a woman, or even if I wasn’t, this was irresponsible radio banter on every level as domestic violence should not be joked about. It’s offensive to women and to domestic violence victims everywhere. It’s perhaps also saying that domestic violence is the victim’s fault because she/he is not strong enough to defend herself/himself. And then to suggest that person should also be groped. What kind of message is this for two male radio DJs to joke about in any context?”

“It’s just not funny. It’s scary, offensive, irresponsible and insensitive and it must be stopped.”  she said, adding that her husband who was in the car with her at the time also found the segment offensive.

The show’s broadcaster, SPH Radio, initially declined to comment. Later, the company told Mumbrella in a statement: “We thank the listener for the feedback and we have shared her feedback with the programming team.”

The Media Development Authority, Singapore’s media regulator, said it would look into the matter.

Ong and van Cuylenburg joined the station, formerly known as HOT FM 91.3 until a rebrand in January, in June after an 18-year stint with rival MediaCorp. They were revealed as the new hosts of the show in a video in which they wear paper bags over their heads to disguise their identities.

When the pair joined SPH, van Cuylenburg said listeners could expect content that was “honest, funny and fun,” according to an article in the Straits Times.

Their co-host Andre Hoeden was part of The Married Men show that was fired in 2013 for a prank call on a carer at a speech and drama centre for children.

In the call, Hoeden, pretending to be from a High Commission tasked with doing a background check, asked the carer how many children she had beaten. After she responded that she hadn’t beaten any children, he later advised her to “just beat the poor children… because the rich people can afford lawyer.” He gave advice on how to beat kids and suggested that the worker’s hugging of children could be interpreted as “molestation” in some countries. Hoeden was dismissed along with his fellow DJs and two of the show’s producers.

Van Cuylenburg and Ong have been cautioned before in a country highly sensitive to what is said on the airwaves. In 2000, Van Cylenburg was taken off air for two weeks along with his co-host for using an expletive during his time on Class 95 FM’s Morning Express show.

In 2001, Ong was suspended for a fortnight after listeners complained about dialogue that mentioned nipples, orgasms and sex during his morning show Perfect 10.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella Asia newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing