Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Unhappy Mondays

Last week, BBC Radio four premiered a new late night comedy programme entitled Happy Mondays, meant to be "showcasing new ideas in comedy". The first episode was reasonably good featuring a diverse array of comedian including the black gay comedian Stephen K Amos.

This week's episode, The Don't Watch with Mother Sketchbook, "a celebration of the 30th anniversary of an imaginary sketch show", was sadly not at all as funny as last week's. If I am honest I even found it rather offensive. There was a sketch meant to be the only surviving copy of an old sketch from this imaginary show dubbed in Zulu, featuring a man and woman hopefully really talking Zulu must as likely as night just making things up on a background of canned laughter. Nothing very funny there at all.

The most offensive part, in my view, however, was found right at the beginning of the show during the introductory speech where a former member of the imaginary team, Peter Wellet, was said to have died of a "gay related disease", "the silly poof". We were then informed that the show was dedicated to him and that fees and proceeds from the show would "NOT be going to AIDS charities worldwide".

This assimilation of AIDS as a gay disease, completely out of context and unnecessary in the show, is not only unfunny, it is also redolent of the worst moments of bigotry that were witnessed at the beginning of the epidemic. I thought these had gone for ever; how mistaken I was! The same goes for the "Zulu sketch" which had nothing intrinsically funny and seemed only there to poke xenophobic or racist fun at a "funny" (read ridiculous) foreign language.

The clip is available to listen for the next week by clicking on the link above. I have also saved a copy of the offending segment.

The programme was written by Rhys Thomas, Lucy Montgomery, Tony Way, Stephen Burge and Glynne Wiley. And the cast went as follows:

Tom Rhys-Griffiths ...... Rhys Thomas
Tracey Anderson ...... Lucy Montgomery
John Girling ...... Waen Shepherd
Roger Mills ...... Tony Way
Peter Wellet (deceased) ...... John W Hopkins

I have used some of the above post as a basis for a complaint to the BBC. Let's see what sort of response they come up with.


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