By: Chris Morrison
May 12th 2019
Comedy is no laughing matter at the BBC these days.
An internal report has shown that audience satisfaction for Radio 4’s “comedy flagship” 6.30pm slot has fallen dramatically over the last year, while the “weekly reach” has plunged from 3.3 million to 2.87 million listeners.
These findings are hardly a shock.
Few shows last long on Radio 4 these days and listeners often complain about the quality. Nothing demonstrates the institutional left-wing bias at the Corporation better than the constant student hall rants from smug “comedians” grown fat on the 6.30pm gravy train.
The late Jeremy Hardy, who for years on the BBC “speaks to the nation“, was little more than a ranting communist sneering at the widely admired British way of life.
Last year in April, Hardy noted on the News Quiz that “illegal immigration doesn’t mean you are a criminal. It just means that you don’t have the right papers or an official at the Home Office doesn’t like you”.
Welcome to anarchy, BBC style. Comedy sure to appeal to all those who believe in and rely on the rule of law.
Fellow sneerer Mark Steel never tires of telling us that he grew up in Swanley, a Kentish “dump” full of blue collar families. Admittedly few BBC types congregate in the town but it is far from a dump and is surrounded by large green spaces. It is slightly surprising that snotty Steel makes opprobrious comments about working-class areas since he makes a good living on the BBC taking a travelling show around the country.
But these days the BBC is less Down Your Way – more Up Your Way.
Has anyone ever laughed at the Now Show?
Listening to an episode of this dreadful lefty-fest is marginally less funny than root canal treatment. The programme is typical of the anti-science, mass immigration, me too, up yours agenda produced by a roster of clowns that would struggle to secure much of a living outside the BBC bubble. But they all live high on the hog in a world of you scratch my back production companies and money flowing freely from a State-ordered poll tax.
Who would employ Marcus Brigstocke after his laughably bad performance as Barnum stunk up the South Bank a couple of years ago?
So it is back to regular employment on shows like Just a Minute where, when asked to say something recently to an Indian audience, he said – “sorry”.
No doubt Brigstocke is still upset that the Italians don’t apologise for the beastly Roman empire, or people in Africa don’t repent for all the local people sold into slavery by indigenous tribes. Or maybe he couldn’t give a stuff about historical events and just wants to signal his sanctimonious virtue – something of a constant habit.
And who would employ Richard Curtis, whose best film days are well behind him?
But he always has a tedious berth on BBC Radio 4 and Comic Relief where his mates can associate with career enhancing good – and many less good – causes, all overseen by highly paid charity executives.
Of course, much of the problem with BBC comedy lies with modern day comedy itself. The late Freddie Starr used to bring the house down with an impression of snake-hipped Mick Jagger complete with monkey walk.
Of course, it is perfectly fine to mock Jagger since he is a white fella but at the time he had distinctly protruding lips so obviously these days it would get you fired.
Chalky White, a comic West Indian creation from Jim Davidson, used to walk on the zebra crossing saying “now you see me. now you don’t”. It’s a gag that works for someone with both a white and black skin, but it isn’t going to get onto the BBC any time soon. Not these days when “It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum” doesn’t get a re-run because an English actor had the temerity to play an Indian.
Try and promote Spike Milligan’s Pakistani Dalek – with or without the catch phrase “exterminate, put him in the curry” – and see how far you get. But you might stand a chance with an English Dalek putting say Nigel Farage in the stew.
Local tribes along with men and women have always mocked each other from time immemorial. Much of it is good-natured – it makes us laugh as human beings and in its way it releases more dangerous tensions. And do the Irish not make jokes about themselves? – “how do I get to Dublin? – well, I wouldn’t start from here” – and jokes without Jews would kill dead almost all Jewish humour.
British humour has always laughed at others, but some of the biggest jokes are about themselves. Without that comedy, the music halls and the Carry On films and the naughty seaside postcards would never have existed.
Left with nothing to mock or laugh at, the halls these days are bereft of talent. The F-bomb is the only thing that works so is used whenever the performer wants a quick laugh. Every August they decamp to Edinburgh and give themselves awards. These are used to swing BBC comedy slots but, needless to say, most shows without their vital F-bombs die on their feet when subjected to an adult and critical audience.
Today the liberal elites are embarked on a root and branch transformation of British society and not a word can be spoken in jest. The only material allowed on a regular basis is unfunny politically correct hectoring from dreary bores.
The BBC justifies the whole laughter-free zone by suggesting that there aren’t any “right wing” comedians. Well, for a start, we are not talking about comedians but mostly political activists doing their turn on alleged comedy shows. So if alternative views cannot be found, they should all be canned. Of course, it is perfectly possible to find satirists to do a job on all politicians. One would have thought that Corbyn, McDonnell and Thornberry are prime material and if that fails how about free speech lover Tom Watson, union hard nut Len McClusky or the ghastly George Galloway.
An even more tempting target should loom with the outbreak of loopy “end of the world is nigh” climate hysteria. But don’t hold any breaths. In his recent – somewhat under-reported – essay on climate change “Mass death dies hard”, Clive James wrote about the death of satire.
“The full 97% of all satirists who dealt themselves out of the climate subject back at the start look like staying out of it until the end, even if they get satirised in their turn”.
Bring it on – but in the meantime, we are stuck with Brand, Punt and Dennis, Hamilton and Co who continue to pocket large rewards for producing relentlessly tedious self-important boring audience-killing dross.