Diversity Of Opinion

A Diversity of Opinion

So I’m sitting there with my Horlicks, and a couple of digestive biscuits, watching Newsnight. The lovely Emily Maitis has convened a panel of three witty, cutting edge humorists to discuss the complex issues surrounding BrandRossSachsGate. First up, Jan Raven:

“They were out of order, but they are very funny and the BBC must not give in to the Daily Mail tendency”.

( I’m paraphrasing btw ).

Second, John O’Farrell:

“They were out of order, but they are very funny and the BBC must not give in to the Daily Mail tendency”.

( I’m still paraphrasing btw ).

I start to yawn. Where are those matchsticks that Tom used to use in the Tom and Jerry cartoons?

Third, and finally. We have Stephen K Amos. Great, someone to break the consensus. What do you think, Stephen?

“They were out of order, but they are very funny and the BBC must not give in to the Daily Mail tendency”.

( Yes, I’m still paraphrasing btw, but I was almost catatonic by then, and I don’t sit there with a notepad anyway ).

Gee. Thanks for that. Thankfully Virgin One were just about to start Sexcetera so at least I had something intellectually stimulating to go to sleep on.

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59 Responses to Diversity Of Opinion

  1. cameron says:

    no change here. When it’s a mass protest about the iraq war it’s democracy at work. When it’s the countryside march – it’s a load of tiffs. When it’s 27000 complaints about brand&ross it’s mob rule? BBC think. This is a brain washed cult.

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  2. Grant says:

    Radio 4 yesterday described it as “a lapse of taste “, with no apparent sense of irony.

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  3. Gareth says:

    Jan Raven started badly (‘All the best programmes are made by the BBC’!) but did get better – a cruel stream of comedy has taken hold that aims to make us laugh by being vulgar, and it doesn’t have to be that way.

    They were all in agreement that it wasn’t funny and it wasn’t appropriate. They were happy to say the editorial team were as much to blame (which they were) and that it was somehow another failure of the system.* Yet they couldn’t see any point in Brand and Ross taking responsibility for their own actions. Isn’t that what grown ups are supposed to do?

    I’m vaguely impressed with Brand. He has accepted his behaviour wasn’t on – both in what he said, that he merrily humiliated two entirely innocent people and that it is damaging to the BBC brand.

    * I can’t help but think that their mindset is, had this all been done but not actually broadcast it would have been okay.

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  4. Fearless Frank says:

    “but they were very funny…”
    So that makes it ok to publicly pillory an innocent man and his family?

    The defenders of this tripe just don’t get it – it’s not a question of personal taste in comedy, this is to do with committing a crime and thinking it’s okay to do so as long as it’s “funny”.

    Former beeb bigwig Christopher Bland on Today, Radio 4 this morning, seems equally divorced from reality.

    Incidentally, can anyone explain what is funny about Ross and Brand?

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  5. Tom says:

    Weird.

    The night before Newsnight did more or less the same with just one comedian, though he was so unmemorable in most ways I forget who he was.

    One thing I do remember though, is that he compared the Ross/Brand brouhaha to the Danish Cartoon Controversy.

    Both, he said, were ‘creative freedom’ issues; and those of us complaining about Wossy & his pal were no better than Islamists.

    Bloody cheek.

    Not all comics take this line, I’m glad to say.

    Marks and Gran were on More 4 News and they seemed up for a full scale firing of the reptilian duo.

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  6. Jeff says:

    BBC’s HYS is asking should comedians challenge our “social mores”. I replied “yes” they should, and then I typed out my favourite Bernard Manning joke. So far it hasn’t been allowed through. But lets keep pushing those boundaries kids!

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  7. The Cattle Prod of Destiny says:

    I can’t say I particularly like Brand. He can be witty when he is being offbeat and whimsical but his attitude towards his (supposedly) many sexual conquests is not acceptable. The way he dismisses the girls he sleeps with and claims to be a ‘sexaholic’ smacks of an inferiority complex.

    Ross is just a juvenile chancer.

    Both are, though, typical of the type of humour which has taken hold at the BBC. It relies almost totally on picking on a ‘celebrity’ and then giving them a good kicking. It is, in fact, a very left wing trait. The left just love to kick their oppoonents, especially when they are down. They will even continue when their targets are dead. It’s a form of bullying and is most obvious when aimed at thoses celebs who have either made the mistake of supporting the Tories, have failed to contribute enough to the Party or are openly Jewish. The message is clear – don’t step out of line.

    So, when Amy Winehouse, is spiraling into drug abuse and torment do they reach out and help a fellow druggie or do they stick the boot in and hope she dies? Well. Depends doesn’t it?

    You’ll also notice that ‘celebs’ who are talentless and from a working class background get far harsher treatment than the talentless posh. Those uppity chavs have to be kept in line …

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  8. GCooper says:

    Once I’d calmed down a little, the smug uniformity and absolute conviction that they were right and that the rest of us are mere unenlightened, Mail-reading oafs, I began to see Newsnight’s own goal for what it was.

    That coven of deeply unfunny polemicists will have had the same effect on most viewers that it had on me. It will have confirmed that the BBC has lost touch with its audience and needs to be brought to order.

    If we must have a publicly funded broadcaster at all (and I can see few justifications for it) then it should
    reflect the funder not the fiddler.

    I don’t think Ms Raven and Co have quite worked that out yet. They are not entitled to a free meal ticket.

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  9. dick says:

    They’re bloody public servants – standards should be higher. As Pete mentioned you gotta go to Virgin to get porn – so why not go private if you want ‘cutting edge’ abuse. I pay for this by force – the BBC can’t have it all ways.

    Marks & Gran – comedy.

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  10. Susan Franklin says:

    Marks and Gran are two 1st class comedy writers, so Newsnight would never have them on. Apart from Ravens, I don’t who the others were. The one sitting next to Ravens said something like the BBC shouldn’t give in to this criticism. These types are always dismissing Daily Mail readers – 2,267,502 average daily circulation -(Guardian – 345,362 average daily circulation)because they are horror of horrors, middle-class. To all the marxist beeboids – make a note – middle class people are the people who work and pay taxes, including the compulsory telly tax.

    And whats all this talk about ‘edgy comedy’. Beeboids take another note : the key word is ‘comedy’

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  11. Arthur Dent says:

    and those of us complaining about Wossy & his pal were no better than Islamists. Bloody cheek.

    He has a point that is worth debating. If we can step back for a moment from the glorious sight of the BBC metaphorically wetting itself can we tease out the issues a little.

    Firstly, Andrew Sachs has a justifiable complaint against the BBC since they broadcast material that invaded his privacy even when their rules required them to ask for his permission.

    Secondly Ms Bailiee may have a complaint against Brand for broadcsating information about her that she had every expectation would be private.

    Thirdly, we as forced purchasers have a complaint against the BBC in respect of both of the above (done in our name – HoHo)

    BUT Many of the complainants are complaining because they say they were offended by the programme content. It seems pretty clear that the actual audience wasn’t offended since there were only two complaints after the broadcast itself. I don’t think this argument stands up since it is a parallel, although much more restrained, with the Danish cartoon saga, and similar events. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from offence, nor should it. I have seen Ross on a number of occasons and Brand on rather fewer and their programmes offend me, so I don’t watch them any more than I buy Viz.

    Many participants on this board have previously strongly supported, as a freedom of speech issue, the broadcast of offensive material.

    In conclusion I don’t think Ross & Brand should be off the airwaves because they are offensive. Similarly I don’t think Chubby Brown or indeed Bernard Manning should have been either.

    There is of course the argument about the license fee, and I don’t think there should be one. However the argument about offence and free speech does seem to be worth debate.

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  12. Tom says:

    Arthur Dent | 30.10.08 – 12:19 pm

    I agree.

    Ross and Brand should be fired because what they did was ….take your pick…. wicked, evil, wrong, immoral, bad, an act of moral turpitude, likely to bring the BBC into discredit, a breach of the broadcasting guidelines…… NOT because some people found it ‘offensive’.

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  13. cameron says:

    just why would Gordon brown get involved ha ha gosh this mandelson has some savvy still. Where is the critique of the economy now that the BBC is in full on denial mode? Genius

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  14. Devil's Advocate says:

    In a nutshell, it’s just more mob mentality.

    >Sigh< We are forced to pay these people's salaries and yet I find both of them highly entertaining. My personal preference, but people like Brand and Ross make the BBC what it is. Still excellent value. (And yes, I know the point of his site is that we should not be forced to pay for the tv licence so please don't shove that back down my throat). Should they have been censured? Punished? Fined? Yes. Grovelling apology to Mr Sachs and Devil Slut lady? Most definitely. Suspended? Forced to resign? No. Not in my opinion. Should anyone be punished further? Yes: the people who approved it for air. Brand and Ross produce close to the edge humour which does not appeal to everyone, but to people like myself it does. The incident was unsavoury and should not have been transmitted, and private apologies should have sufficed. The Daily Mail et al who hate the BBC have found a big stick and in between wanking over the furore they have been hitting the big bad corporation as hard as possible. It's just silly. Stop the leftie news items and politically-correct nonsense in drama and you have a service I am happy to pay for.

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  15. The Cattle Prod of Destiny says:

    Tom & Arthur

    But where do you draw the line? It’s one thing to draw a few cartoons that are taken, deliberately, out of context and used to manufacture hatred in people and to target an old man and make comments, no matter how true, about his granddaughter.

    If this had been you, would you just brush it off and think you were over -reacting to ‘offence’? Or, like me, would you be hunting the swine down with murderous intent?

    Never underestimate the power of ‘offence’. It’s a real emotion.

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  16. Tom says:

    Devil’s Advocate | 30.10.08 – 12:35 pm

    You (a kind of plural ‘you’ that includes the left-libertarians in the media, the Radio 1 audience etc.) are mixing up categories.

    You seem to be arguing that Ross and Brand should not be fired because what they did was thought to be funny by you and others.

    Well, we know that some serial killers think it’s amazingly funny to hack their victims’ limbs off.

    Doubtless torturers thing it’s a real gas to watch people squirming and screaming.

    Everyone’s idea of fun is different.

    It is possible to agree that Ross was really quite funny on this programme, but that nevertheless he should still be fired because what he did was WRONG.

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  17. cameron says:

    devil
    Irespect your right to want to pay for the BBC . I don’t want to have to pay though. Can you respect my wishes ? Can I be included ? Will you pay my share for instance if I abstain from the BBC . Doubt it. Your other points were irrelevant to the wider debate- a large amount of people simply don’t want to pay for the BBC . Have a vote on it – the BBC knows what the result would be…..

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  18. Umbongo says:

    Arthur Dent

    “I don’t think Ross & Brand should be off the airwaves because they are offensive. Similarly I don’t think Chubby Brown or indeed Bernard Manning should have been either.”

    But it’s a different form of offensiveness. R&B offend whatever sense of propriety remains in the general population because R&B’s humour is the “humour” of swearing and overt bullying – you can see it in every playground in the country. It’s children’s humour appealing to the infantilism of those “educated” since the 60s.

    Manning and Brown’s humour is (partially) that of ridiculing minorities in Britain which can offend those minorities: tasteless and crude perhaps but, in a curious way, an adult mode of humour. M&B’s jokes may even act as lighning conductor for more serious social consequences of immigration since WW2.

    There’s a third humour mode. This is the Brigstocke/Steele/Hardie one which only appeals to readers of the Guardian and anybody whose political development ended in their first year at university. Needless to say this humour is unfunny and desperately priggish. Unsurprisingly it gets inordinate airtime at the BBC.

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  19. The Cattle Prod of Destiny says:

    Devil’s Advocate,

    Are ‘Daily Mail’ readers exempt from allowed opinions then? Do their opinions not count? Are they somehow so below the watermark that they can be safely ignored?

    Look at the HYS ‘most recommended’. Over 1000 people agree with the top post and the next ten do not have less than 500 ‘agrees’. That is unprecedented.

    This is not just the ‘Daily Mail’ having a go at the BBC this is real people taking real offence.

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  20. Tom says:

    The Cattle Prod of Destiny | 30.10.08 – 12:45 pm

    If this had been you, would you just brush it off and think you were over -reacting to ‘offence’? Or, like me, would you be hunting the swine down with murderous intent?

    Oh no, if it had been my daughter who was insulted, I’d be furious. But I wouldn’t expect everyone else to be offended on my behalf.

    Back in Edwardian times I suppose R&B would have been thrashed with a horsewhip on the steps of their club, but I doubt whether Sachs doing that to them outside the Groucho or Soho House would have much effect. People would just assume they were shooting a commercial.

    Georgina has missed a trick, I think. She should have told the tabloids about how Brand’s penis resembled a cashew nut and about his difficulties keeping it up without mainlining Viagra.

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  21. Gareth says:

    “It seems pretty clear that the actual audience wasn’t offended since there were only two complaints after the broadcast itself.”

    If it was available on Listen Again there is plenty of scope for people who didn’t hear it broadcast to have a cast iron complaint.

    In addition the various copies and excerpts replayed in the media have been enough for plenty of people to complain.

    I hope this does prompt a discussion on the nature of offence. Freedom of speech is an important thing.(Though I don’t think we’ve ever really had it in this country.)

    There will likely be a portion of complaints that argue ‘It might offend someone else’. They’re not offended so why complain? Alternatively is the only grounds for complaining if you personally have been offended? I don’t think what Brand and Ross did was right. I wasn’t offended by it either as it wasn’t directed at me.

    What I do think is it showed an absolute lack of standards and decency – both from the presenters and the producers – and my opinion wouldn’t be any different were they a commercial entity. Would I have a cause for complaint? Not a specific one that’s for sure.

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  22. Susan Franklin says:

    Regarding the comparison to the Danish cartoons. I agree • bloody cheek. And illogical. Comedy is culture-specific, so you wouldn’t expect muslims to find those cartoons funny (or to threaten to kill over them). The cartoons were for the Danes.

    There’s a confusion in the media between being politically correct and what is acceptably funny within a specific culture. We should be able to make jokes about terrorist muslims the way comedians used to joke about the IRA, and further back about Hitler. Usually there’s a general consensus within a culture of what is funny. I suspect that most licence paying people in UK don’t find funny two blokes calling to leave messages about sex they’ve had with Sachs granddaughter and sex acts they were going to perform on Sachs. I’m guessing it wouldn’t be funny in most cultures. There’s no context.

    The only question is should the public broadcaster, funded by tax payers be paying for what they say is ‘edgy comedy’ ?

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  23. Biodegradable says:

    If people want to compare Brand & Ross’ “pranks” to the Mohamed cartoons that’s fine.

    I’d just like them to explain to me why so many of them are defending B&S as funny and using freedom of expression arguments to justify offending one man and his grand-daughter, while those same people had no qualms at all agreeing that the Mohamed cartoons should be repressed.

    I’d like to see those people responding to complaints from offended Muslims in the same way, ie: “it might be a little ‘edgy’ but it’s funny.”

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  24. The Cattle Prod of Destiny says:

    Susan Franklin | 30.10.08 – 1:13 pm |
    The only question is should the public broadcaster, funded by tax payers be paying for what they say is ‘edgy comedy’ ?

    Yes they should, otherwise we wouldn’t have had Monty Python.

    Where they go wrong is confusing edgy with offensive. It’s a lack of imagination more than anything else …

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  25. George R says:

    ‘Evening Standard’:

    ‘Radio 2 boss in threat to quit’

    [Extract]:

    …”Ross could get away with a slap on the wrist because BBC top brass fear a multi-million pound legal battle if he is sacked.”

    http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23578878-details/Radio+2+boss+in+threat+to+quit/article.do

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  26. The Cattle Prod of Destiny says:

    Tom | 30.10.08 – 12:53 pm |
    But I wouldn’t expect everyone else to be offended on my behalf.

    Why on Earth not? Isn’t that the point of ‘community’ that we stand together and protect each other?

    If someone had said that about your granddaughter I would have been offended. Because one does not say such things in public, on air, for all to hear. It’s wrong. It just is not done.

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  27. George R says:

    Melanie Phillips:

    “What planet is Sir Christopher living on?”

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/2560951/what-planet-is-sir-christopher-living-on.thtml

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  28. recovering liberal says:

    It’s not about the offence given to Sachs or how I might react if I was in Sachs’ position. it is, for me, how I feel tainted and humiliated by being forced to pay for their swaggering vulgarity.

    Sachs can forgive them all he likes; the yoof can support him if they want to, but I am certain their schtik is not to be funny but to emasculate and show dominance over us, the despised, “respectable” class by forcing us to pay for our own humiliation

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  29. GCooper says:

    Recovering liberal makes a good point.

    One thing that has come screaming out of the BBC since this affair went public has been the sheer contempt felt for ‘Middle England’ by the Groucho’s Club Light Infantry.

    But why is it acceptable – indeed laudable – for Daily Mail readers to be offended, but not Guardian readers?

    Or, dare one say it, Moslems?

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  30. backwoodsman says:

    Peter, if you think back to the time when Andy Kershaw had his little problem with plod, and indeed spent some time as a guest of Her Majesty. A number of us here were very supportive of him. The consensus was, that he was clearly very knowledgeable about a wide range of music and a genuine enthusiast.
    By contrast ross and brand probably rate below Nigel Ogden and ‘The Organist Entertains’, in terms of radio 2 listenability. Childish, self satisfied dross. Unless of course you are a London based media pundit.
    Now, if we can just attract a fraction of the people complaning about ross, to complain about the political bias, we will be on to a winner.
    Will have a chance to back the local MP, one of DC’s inner circle, into a corner next week. A number of us plan to give him a very hard time over the necessity of making the beeboid bias a media issue.

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  31. Adam says:

    http://www.studentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=713591

    So young people agree with the beeb huh? Doesnt look like it from the first page

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  32. Adam says:

    Dont know why link doesnt work. Its a thread in studentroom general discussion

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  33. Confiteor says:

    @GCooper

    Well said that man. What had my teeth itching last night was that these guests — all of whom regularly suck from the BBC teet — seemed to be suggesting that we just didn’t “get it”. It’s wot the yoof want. That’s what the forums show.

    Leaving aside the issue of why a Radio 1 poll should be any more scientific or representative of people’s opinions than 28,000 official complaints, just what are they saying?

    It’s ok to harass an old man if it amuses the next generation of licence-fee payers?

    Perhaps, then, the BBC should have carried the footage the “youth” took on their mobiles when they coaxed that lad into jumping to his death from a car park a few weeks ago. That’s what they want: so give it to them.

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  34. Anonymous says:

    Adam | 30.10.08 – 2:11 pm

    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=713591

    🙂

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  35. Martin says:

    All of asudden the BBC are calling it “prank calls”. BNo BBC shits, it was offensive and quite possibly against the law you wankstains.

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  36. moonbat nibbler says:

    The Cattle Prod of Destiny | 30.10.08 – 1:21 pm |

    Yes they should, otherwise we wouldn’t have had Monty Python.

    Nonsense, four of the six pythons were doing pre-production for an ITV show before being head-hunted by the BBC.

    Why is it that I never see Fox being praised to the hilt for Star Wars? How about Universal for Schlinder’s List? Yet if the BBC have any involvement in a successful show it is, uniquely they, who were largely responsible. The coke dealt in Shepperd’s Bush isn’t laced with pixie dust.

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  37. The Cattle Prod of Destiny says:

    moonbat nibbler | 30.10.08 – 2:53 pm |
    Pah! The BBC still got them together and had the balls to put them on air.

    Either way the it’s the same. There is a place for ‘edgy’ comedy at the BBC. But edgy doesn’t mean offensive.

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  38. Hugh Janus says:

    Peter Tatchell completely doesn’t get it:

    Jeff: BBC’s HYS is asking should comedians challenge our “social mores”. I replied “yes” they should, and then I typed out my favourite Bernard Manning joke. So far it hasn’t been allowed through. But lets keep pushing those boundaries kids!

    Mine is, “my grandad died at Auswitz”, solemn hush in the audience, “yea, he fell out of the watch tower.” Classic pull back and reveal.

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  39. fewqwer says:

    Devil’s Advocate:

    My personal preference, but people like Brand and Ross make the BBC what it is. Still excellent value.

    (And yes, I know the point of his site is that we should not be forced to pay for the tv licence so please don’t shove that back down my throat).

    So what you’re saying is, you like the BBC’s populist output, your income is such that you find the compulsory fee to be a fair price to pay for it, you are aware that there are many who find the BBC’s tax oppressive and humiliating, but you don’t let that spoil your enjoyment.

    There is a word for people like you.

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  40. Hugh Janus says:

    Yet if the BBC have any involvement in a successful show it is, uniquely they, who were largely responsible.

    The Office is an excellent example of this. It got an almost grudging airing by the Beeb, midweek on BBC2 whilst at the time the Beeb were really pushing a Johnny Vaughan sitcom vehicle which flopped big time. Obviously now The Office is a bone fide BBC classic 😉

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  41. fewqwer says:

    Am I right in thinking that the BBC is not as heavily regulated as the private sector, hence its capacity for ‘edgy’ comedy?

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  42. mister ed says:

    i cant help wondering if this is all a big distraction – from the mad as a hatter Climate Change bill , which was passed in the commons , with only 5 MPs dissenting

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/29/commons_climate_change_bill/

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  43. Cameron says:

    Hugh Janus

    The office is a bona fide classic yes.
    The BBC churn out 80% crap and will get a few results in the end -after all there is no financial pressure like at ITV.

    If you hang around in a barbers long enough you’ll get a haircut.

    The BBC isnt unique in it’s creativity – it just thinks it is.
    America produces far more impressive drama for instance on a very regular basis, commercially.

    One successful offering does not make up for the spooks/titty bang bangs/newsnight/entire political coverage…..does it?

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  44. Hugh Janus says:

    Er, that’s my point!

    The BBC had bugger all to do with The Office really. It would have got made anyway yet the BBC like to bask in its glory despite sidelining it at the time going all out to promote this.

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  45. Sue says:

    The similarity between the “prank” and the Danish cartoon is that neither of them were funny.

    The Danish cartoon didn’t purport to be though, but some people think Ross and Brand’s hollow un-infectious giggling is enough to qualify as funny. What’s more, they say anyone who doesn’t agree has no sense of humour. Edgy? How, edgy? What’s the opposite of edgy? flabby, bland, feeble, stale, failed, in fact embarrassingly cringey*, as cringey as the David Brent dance. Russell Brand is a bit like David Brent come to think of it. Insecure, self obsessed, not arf as funny as he thinks.
    So all you indignant disc jockeys and comedians who say it’s a mountain out of a molehill, you’re right. The molehill is Brand’s comedic talent, and the mountain is his salary.

    *Alternative spelling; cringy

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  46. cameron says:

    hugh
    I misread your point. I can remember the BBC taking all the rewards for the office though he he. Looking back though it’s just the same gag repeated for 2 series and a special? I watched it last week- not as funny – to much ‘lingering’ camera work. Oh well.

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  47. Martin says:

    Sue: The Danish cartoons had nothing to do with the BBC.

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  48. Susan Franklin says:

    CattleP 1.13

    I agree with you. Its the difference between ‘edgy’ and offensive. I’m only calling it ‘edgy’ because thats how BBC keep describing it as they don’t want to admit they have been offensive. Its all about content and context. For example ‘The Young Ones’ was probably quite shocking in its time, but the joke was on themselves. Everything they did showed them to be idiots. Same with ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ which contrasted the ordinary, decent daughter’s behaviour with the mother’s immature, materialistic craziness.

    BBC not being able to distinguise between ‘edgy’ and offensive seems to be the problem. Perhaps the understanding of the difference is being eradicated through lack of education.

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