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Wednesday 2 September 2020

BBC Left Wing Comedy ISN’T

Once again, false equivalence and mainly invented copy have come together at the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, as another front in the attack on the BBC has been opened. In a claimed “exclusive”, meaning no-one else was desperate enough to make it up, readers were told yesterday “BBC’s new boss threatens to axe left-wing comedy shows”. The “left-wing” part was in quotes on the front page.

And that, as with so much else at the Tel, is because the paper cannot stand the claim up. The paper is now heavily paywalled (thank goodness for small mercies) but the Evening Standard, which is not, has lifted the story, telling “The new director-general of the BBC is reportedly set to tackle ‘perceived Left-wing comedy bias’ as he arrived for his first day in the job dressed in jeans”. Reportedly. Perceived. Evidence-free claims, then.

There is more. “The new director-general believes the corporation's comedy output is seen as too one-sided, The Telegraph reports [=claims without evidence]. Senior sources [who? Tory MPs? Brexit Party?] told the newspaper that Mr Davie believes comedy shows need a ‘radical overhaul’ in the coming months. Parts of the plans could see [or could not] a number of shows axed, but sources said no decisions have yet been made”.

Which suggests the “sources”, such as they were, are not privy to the BBC’s decision making process. Also, whoever dreamed up this drivel clearly does not understand the process of commissioning shows, an area where the Beeb has been cautious, maybe too cautious, of late. On top of that, the Tel fails to understand that satirical shows are likely to feature criticism of whoever is in power - like they did in the New Labour years.

Ben Bradley - whinging Tory

In other words, this story is a crock of crap, just another way of kicking the Corporation for one of the things it does moderately well and mainly uncontroversially. What are right-wing nonentities like Tory MP Ben Bradley wanting when they whineIn recent years lots of BBC comedy shows are just constant left-wing rants about the Tories and Brexit”. They don’t want any kind of balance. They want to silence their critics.

The sheer vacuity of the Tel’s propaganda is thrown into sharp focus by this snippet from a report in free sheet Metro: “Popular panel shows Have I Got News For You and Mock the Week are among those to have received complaints about their jokes against Conservatives and Brexit”. Mock the Week is bound to have a go at the current Government. Because it’s satirising what is current. And HIGNFY?

Which party leader, BBC bashers, came to public prominence through his appearances on HIGNFY? That would be alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. Those Tory MPs are whining about a genre that made their own leader popular.

And Katy Brand reminded the whinging Tories “I also think a quick count of all the jokes made about Corbyn during his tenure would be….useful?” Because there were rather a lot of them. On Mock the Week. On HIGNFY. On The Mash Report. Maybe they don’t count.

As Ms Brand also noted, “There’s a word for asking people in the media to support a Government even when things are going very wrong … it’s called ‘propaganda’”.

If that’s what the Tories want, they should be told to take their whinging - and shove it.

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Arnold said...

BBC denies political pressure is behind new comedy show ‘The Drug Dealing Muslims Who Hate Brexit’


Anonymous said...

Correct, comedy it isn't.

Too many no nos these days - there was an Englishman, a Scotsman and an Irishman, the Englishman was black from a deprived one parent family, the Scotsman a gay SNP supporter and total abstainer, while the Irishman was from the travelling community and a diligent hard working man. Winston says "I was named after a famous man born on the same day has me", Wallace says, "so was I", Bono says " me too ".

Titter ye not!

Andy McDonald said...

Also, there's a tradition in comedy - dating back centuries and common in pretty much every culture on Earth - of punching up against authority. The reversal of power structures and relationships. Powerful people laughing at those who can't defend themselves isn't funny - all too often it's reality.

Funnily enough Stephen Fry, back in 1985 warned against this during one of his "Professor Trefusis" monologues on Radio 4. He said that "They've taken over parliament and the town halls, so now they're after the clever people who make fun of them". Or, as a retired teacher friend of mine put it, the revenge of the thick kids.

Jonathan said...

The new DG was quoted 'Rightwing comics just aren't as funny.

The real reason is there just isn't many Rightwing comics about, Geoff Norcott comes to mind as about the only whose reasonably funny.

The art of stand up or politcal satire is poke fun at those in power, Corbyn got an absolute roasting and every other leader, but Labour has never thought about shutting down comedy.

Spitting Image was notorious in the 80s and 90s for satirising all political leaders from Thatcher as a man, to the almost cruel level at the cravenness of David Steel to David Owen, it was widely known that Steel found this very upsetting.

With the new series of Spitting Image due to be aired on BritBox, the Machiavellian and Incompetent Paul Daniels esque Cummings is going to be getting an absolute roasting alongside the bumbling fool he controls.

If you ever seen V for Vendetta, then that's what the Tories like Ben Bradley want -people loving in fear and a totalitarian state.

anon said...

"left wing comedy" You're having a larf....

AndyC said...

Perhaps the Daily Torygraph isnt aware that the Right dont DO comedy, not intentionally anyway. Can anyone name a comedian/ comedy writer/ satirist on the Right who isnt an embarrassment at best or absolute shite at worst?

iMatt said...

Anyone who like myself has been reading 'Private Eye' for some time will see how in recent years their reader's letters page now includes readers of PE who seem not to realise they were, in fact, reading the leading printed satirical organ in Britain! For they take umbrage at the merest mocking and scrutiny of Brexit, the Tories and Cummings.

If your beliefs are indeed strong and solid, it should not matter one jot if someone takes the piss now and again.

Anonymous said...

Just another small step down the road to red and blue tory totalitarianism.

There will be others.

Don't expect the Starmer Quiff Gang to actually DO something about it.

Anonymous said...

As they get older some famous names have grown not only unfunny but more right wing.
Look at that old liberal John Cleese, who is now displaying clear xenophobia along with a failure to understand comedy. Still, it helps to have loads of money and homes abroad to form a strong opinion on how those of us left here should live.

I look down at both of them said...

Cleese continues to take the piss out of politicians who sell bollocks dressed up as intelligent strategy.

Andy McDonald said...


I'm assuming that this is your hilarious take on the old saints' days joke, in which the respective participants are called George, Andrew and Pancake?

Thanks for demonstrating why right wing comedy so often falls down. Because you're so focused on making a point that you forget the actual funny bit.

grim northerner said...

Prepare for the return of 'chalky white!'

Anonymous said...


Not to mention that their 'jokes' are several generations out of date. For comparison, here's John Thomson as Bernard Righton from the early 90s: "An Englishman an Irishman and a Pakistani ... what a wonderful example of racial integration."