BBC and Channel 4 are ‘cramping creativity in comedy’

The BBC and Channel 4 are ‘cramping creativity’ in comedy because they fear offending ‘the woke,’ the producer of Have I Got News For You has claimed.

Jimmy Mulville, the co-founder of Hat Trick Productions, said he hopes ‘we’ll wake up’ from this so-called ‘cancel culture’, which he claims worries both broadcasters.

He told the Can I Ask You A Personal Question podcast this fear has been apparent at the BBC since at least the 2000s, when a Have I Got News For You joke about Abu Hamza’s hook hand was deemed too ‘disablist’ to air.

Mr Mulville, 65, said: ‘People who cause offence now can be cancelled. And the BBC are worried about it, I know that Channel 4 is worried about it, they’re all worried about it. 

‘I’m not blaming them, it’s the culture in which we live. I’m just hoping we’ll wake up. I think the fear in broadcasters of giving offence to anybody now is cramping creativity.’

The BBC and Channel 4 are 'cramping creativity' in comedy because they fear offending 'the woke,' the producer of Have I Got News For You has claimed. Pictured: Stock image

The BBC and Channel 4 are 'cramping creativity' in comedy because they fear offending 'the woke,' the producer of Have I Got News For You has claimed. Pictured: Stock image

The BBC and Channel 4 are ‘cramping creativity’ in comedy because they fear offending ‘the woke,’ the producer of Have I Got News For You has claimed. Pictured: Stock image

The producer, who launched Hat Trick Productions in 1986 with Denise O’Donoghue and Rory McGrath, added that ‘the line over which we cannot cross is much nearer to us than it used to be’ with Have I Got News For You.

He said: ‘I have views about “the woke”. I think it’s pathetic. When someone is offended, all they’re telling you is they’re offended. There is no wider truth. It’s a subjective response to something. 

‘Now, I think one has to draw a line at openly hateful, racist, sexist, ageist… I get that. But those remarks are never funny.’

Mr Mulville added that a good joke is ‘very healthy’ as it ‘reduces difficult concepts to a size that we can all laugh at.’     

Pictured: Jimmy Mulville, the co-founder of Hat Trick Productions

Pictured: Jimmy Mulville, the co-founder of Hat Trick Productions

Pictured: Jimmy Mulville, the co-founder of Hat Trick Productions

‘When someone announces their sensitivity, what they’re really saying is, “I am a tyrant. You can’t upset me. If you upset me I will destroy you,” he said.  

‘You get these idiots on Twitter who are obviously wanting to be seen and heard in a very inordinate way and want – to use this expression – to “cancel” people. 

‘If you think about that, that’s totalitarianism.’

His comments come after BritBox, a £5.99-a-month streaming service run by the BBC and ITV, rejected a host of British programmes after claiming they do not ‘comply’ with the viewing standards of a present day audience.

Among shows to fall under the axe were the BBC’s 1965 Till Death Us Do Part, which contains a bigoted character, and ITV’s 1970s series Love Thy Neighbour, about a West Indian couple living next door to a white English couple. 

When the platform, which aims to show viewers the best of British television, was launched it pledged to ‘re-comply everything that goes on to BritBox with modern TV viewing standards’.

It also trumpeted a setting that would allow viewers to set bespoke warnings for particular programmes. 

An ITV spokesman said at the launch: ‘We’ve carefully selected a wide range of the very best in British programming which will appeal to viewers in 2019.’ 

Programmes to make it onto the service include Fawlty Towers, which contains scenes where John Cleese’s character Basil Fawlty impersonates Nazi marching and has trouble communicating with a Spanish character called Manuel.

His comments come after BritBox, a £5.99-a-month streaming service run by the BBC and ITV, rejected a host of British programmes after claiming they do not 'comply' with the viewing standards of a present day audience. Pictured: Fawlty Towers

His comments come after BritBox, a £5.99-a-month streaming service run by the BBC and ITV, rejected a host of British programmes after claiming they do not 'comply' with the viewing standards of a present day audience. Pictured: Fawlty Towers

His comments come after BritBox, a £5.99-a-month streaming service run by the BBC and ITV, rejected a host of British programmes after claiming they do not ‘comply’ with the viewing standards of a present day audience. Pictured: Fawlty Towers 

The producer, who launched Hat Trick Productions in 1986 with Denise O'Donoghue and Rory McGrath, said that 'the line over which we cannot cross is much nearer to us than it used to be' with Have I Got News For You

The producer, who launched Hat Trick Productions in 1986 with Denise O'Donoghue and Rory McGrath, said that 'the line over which we cannot cross is much nearer to us than it used to be' with Have I Got News For You

The producer, who launched Hat Trick Productions in 1986 with Denise O’Donoghue and Rory McGrath, said that ‘the line over which we cannot cross is much nearer to us than it used to be’ with Have I Got News For You

BritBox bosses have added a warning to the series saying it contains ‘some offensive language of the time and upsetting scenes’. 

Only Fools and Horses was also allowed onto the platform, but displays a content warning for viewers. 

Speaking about Fawlty Towers, Mr Mulville added: ‘Basil was a horrendous comic monster who, in order to demonstrate his monstrosity, has to do monstrous things. So you have to be a half-wit to confuse those two things.

‘People were saying, “That was a racist remark,” and you say, “well, yes it is, but the character in the show is racist”.’   

Last month, actress Dawn French admitted she was concerned that ‘cancel culture’ could mean modern comedians might not be able to do edgy comedy. 

Last month, actress Dawn French (pictured) admitted she was concerned that 'cancel culture' could mean modern comedians might not be able to do edgy comedy

Last month, actress Dawn French (pictured) admitted she was concerned that 'cancel culture' could mean modern comedians might not be able to do edgy comedy

 Last month, actress Dawn French (pictured) admitted she was concerned that ‘cancel culture’ could mean modern comedians might not be able to do edgy comedy

Dawn French rose to fame as one half of the comedy duo French and Saunders, with Jennifer Saunders. In an interview with Times Radio, she has revealed the racism she experience while she was married to Lenny Henry

Dawn French rose to fame as one half of the comedy duo French and Saunders, with Jennifer Saunders. In an interview with Times Radio, she has revealed the racism she experience while she was married to Lenny Henry

Dawn French rose to fame as one half of the comedy duo French and Saunders, with Jennifer Saunders. In an interview with Times Radio, she has revealed the racism she experience while she was married to Lenny Henry

The French and Saunders star, 63, said she fears comedy could lose one of its ‘most interesting’ dynamics if the current climate puts an end to risky stand-up routines.  

In an interview with Times Radio, she said: ‘I don’t really know how we go forward from this strange position we’re in, certainly in the world of stand-up comedy where the edges are where it’s most interesting.

‘I want those edgy people there challenging us all the time and making us laugh. 

‘The kind of laughs you have when you think that’s one of the naughtiest things I’ve ever heard, or there’s a person inventing a character who is everything awful.

‘But now I just don’t know if you’d ever be able to do that because you’d just have so many haters on your back and I don’t know how we explore it anymore.

‘I’m quite glad to be my age, in a way.’ 

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