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And now for something completely different...

By Russell Grenning - posted Thursday, 5 July 2018

He wanted his fellow "comedy professionals" to know that he "knew what funny was" and that he was "still the bloke who could take the piss out of myself, out of them, out of Channel 4 and also out of Jay".

And in a moment of rare humility, Mr Allen confessed, " order for me to attract to the channel the rebels, the mavericks, the anti-authority malcontents who populate comedy, I had to have that spirit myself. Otherwise I'm just some dick in an expensive jacket spouting meaningless buzzwords about seeking ideas which are bold, original, edgy, spiky." Is there nothing he won't do to have UK folk in convulsions of hysterical laughter?

It was The Guardian in 2014 which published a famous – or, perhaps, infamous – piece about the Monty Python reunion show that year which saw five of the originals get together - the sixth was already dead - for a series of ten stage shows in London. Despite admitting that the ten shows sold out literally in less than a minute with 200,000 people buying tickets, The Guardian decided that the Python team "weren't amusing in their heyday, and they won't be now. Great comedy makes you laugh, makes you think and makes you feel. On all three counts, Python falls woefully short."


It makes you wonder: if The Guardian and Mr Allen are right, why after almost half a century after Monty Python began its initially uncertain path, hundreds of thousands of people, most of whom probably weren't even born when it finished in 1974, still want it.

The Guardianmakes a virtue – probably its only virtue – of deciding that what most people like and want in the UK – and that means not just Monty Phython (never ever funny) but Brexit (terribly wrong and bad because stupid old people voted), the Scottish independence referendum (failed for the same reasons the Brexit referendum passed) and political correctness (really good because it shuts up the great, stupid and ignorant unwashed).

Cleese had a field day with Mr Allen, the all-powerful BBC Comedy Czar, by recalling that in a strange sort of way, the wheel had come full circle for the show.

"When Python started, the Head of Light Entertainment loathed it, and at a Heads of Department meeting, six of them disliked it. Allen is just the latest in a long line who really don't know what they're doing."

Mind you, the BBC has always been super sensitive about even appearing vaguely non-PC: once it edited out the word "Paki" (the slang term for a Pakistani) from an elderly episode of the wildly successful comedy Only Fools and Horses (1981 – 1991) because it admitted it had received a single objection. Yes, a single objection – that is, only one. I can only wonder what will eventually happen to episodes of Fawlty Towers - for example, when the Major goes on and on about "niggers" and "wops".

Would people who feel that the Major's use of these terms is insulting and derogatory want them edited out? Perhaps so but that would mean the whole episode would have to be banned because any editing would render it meaningless. No doubt BBC executives, in their desperate attempts to be politically correct, would tie themselves in knots trying to decide what to do. But, then again, if some crusty old retired military officer complained that the Major's character made him and other similar veterans look stupid and bigoted, no doubt his objection would be instantly dismissed as the ravings of a crank.


Mind you, should political correctness stop with humour?

Somebody should take a long hard look at The Beatles – four white men – whose only virtue in a politically correct world is that most are dead but The Rolling Stones still outrageously perform and they are all white blokes although banning them now would be elder abuse. Not PC at all.

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About the Author

Russell Grenning is a retired political adviser and journalist who began his career at the ABC in 1968 and subsequently worked for the then Brisbane afternoon daily, The Telegraph and later as a columnist for The Courier Mail and The Australian.

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