Provocative And Original

Provocative and Original

One of the lines I’ve been hearing a lot lately, in the wake of BrandRossSachsGate, aside from all the usual “It must never happen again – lessons have been learned” baloney one has come to expect from such furores, is the idea that the BBC must maintain its right to be “provocative and original”.

Which got me thinking… when was it ever? I mean, this is a station that won’t even repeat “It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum!” Indeed, the BBC is so uncutting edge you could rub your hands all over it for two hours without spilling any blood.

I suspect the supporters of this view also mean… “and good”. After all, trying to turn Ian Wright into a tv presenter was indeed both provocative and original. But when was this golden age? Or are we living in it now? Ross and Brand themselves don’t qualify as original BBCers, either. Ross was doing a Friday night tv chat show twenty five years ago. Brand started on MTV. So who do they mean?

Ricky Gervais? He was knocking around Virgin Radio and Channel Four before Aunty Beeb got her grubby mits on him.

Chris Morris? I’d say he was p and o ( and g ). But it’s fifteen years since he last appeared on the BBC.

So who are all these zany, extremist provocateurs who we all ought to cut some slack from time to time because they all make us all look at life in a new and edgy way? Chris Moyles? John Humphries? Brian Matthew? I’d love to know.

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38 Responses to Provocative And Original

  1. mailman says:

    Say it aint so Joe, the BBC wont repeat It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum?




  2. Frankos says:

    or “Love thy Neighbour”.


  3. killemallletgodsortemout says:

    I’ve just noticed that Mark Thompson looks like a piece of decomposing, ginger road-kill.

    The cunt.


  4. Hugh Janus says:

    “Love thy Neighbour”



  5. Hugh Janus says:

    What about The Goon Show?



  6. dross says:

    or “Love thy Neighbour”.
    Frankos | 31.10.08 – 4:26 pm |

    that’d be an ITV programme melud


  7. David Preiser (USA) says:

    Hugh Janus,

    The BBC recorded over the Goon tapes for newer crap in the ’60s and ’70s. All in the interest of getting the best value for your license fee, naturally.


  8. Beness says:

    They play the goon show on radio 7


  9. David Preiser (USA) says:

    Then they got the tapes from elsewhere (as with Python), or didn’t wipe every last one of them.


  10. John Bosworth says:

    Hey – I was just thinking:

    Let’s suppose Ross and Brand had called up Sarah Palin on the phone and told her they had gang-banged her daughter…the BBC establishment, the Guardian crowd, the creeps at Channel 4, the Labour (and probably Tory) Party members would be sniggering all the way to their weekend parties. It would have been soooo funny.

    The only reason the shit hit the fan was because Ross and Brand chose the wrong target – an iconic actor beloved of the elites themselves.

    Call me cynical but I don’t buy the crocodile tears. Remember people like Ross and Brand are scum.

    By the way, from the studio video footage I saw, was I mistaken in thinking they were both high?


  11. public teat says:

    perhaps they might be referring to snidey Jeremy “shoot them (BNP) in the neck” Hardy?


  12. Frankos says:

    sorry did I say “Love thy Neighbour” I meant “The Black and White Minstrel Show”–always get them mixed up


  13. RR says:

    Ah yes, “Otello” as performed by the George Mitchell Minstrels. I think it might just be a bit edgy for them, somehow.

    The point about Jeremy Hardy is that he’s done the same old schtick for so long that he’s not so much cutting edge as Blunt (Anthony).


  14. Hugh Janus says:

    Seriously for a second, Johnathan Meades is brilliant. He’s on a completely different stratum to Ross or Brand though. He’s as unabashedly high brow as they are low.

    That’s not to say he wouldn’t be broadcast if there was no BBC mind.


  15. Frankos says:

    Another so called comedian left rudderless without Margaret Thatcher to hate at –Ben Elton et al owed their snivelling existences to Thatcher and have long past lost their reason for existence ..Notice the real lack of cutting edge political humour against New Labour –where are the Spitting Image Brown and Darling puppets? The Labour party has got away with murder and without a whimper from the gutless comics.


  16. RR says:

    Meades is a star. Put him on the late Friday night slot.


  17. Adam says:

    I am a real fan of Meades. I always thought he should be on more.

    He is unpopular though, for a reason that escapes me.


  18. HSLD says:

    I quite like The Mighty Boosh. I also remember hearing one surreal show on R4 by a comedian called Boothby Grafoe which was both amusing and blessedly apolitical.


  19. Peter Briffa says:

    Yes, I thought about the Mighty Boosh. But then I thought, well it was just another Edinburgh Fringe show that was picked up by some lazy assed BBC producer who doesn’t read the scripts from the slushpile.

    And it’s not like C4 couldn’t have done it.


  20. George R says:

    BBC’s retinue of ‘comedians’ seem to be saying that if what they do to their victims is funny, it’s funny.

    Like this then, from Queen Sofia of Spain:

    “Why do they get on floats and go out protesting? If everyone who wasn’t gay did that, we’d have traffic chaos.”
    Queen Sofia .


  21. Jeff says:

    I think how the Beeb manages to reanimate the corpse of deceased comedian Linda Smith, to appear on all those topical quiz shows, is pretty provocative. Especially when the only humorous thing about her was that nylon wig.


  22. George R says:

    What’s really happening to ‘edgy’ comedy in Britain:

    “YouTube censors comedian’s anti-Sharia video called ‘Welcome to Saudi Britain'”


  23. David Preiser (USA) says:

    I don’t understand what’s supposed to be brave or provocative or risky about abusing an old man. It’s just schoolyard bullying.

    But that’s the way of most talking heads these days, I guess. Too bad the BBC bosses were too narrow minded to understand that. If they had immediately said, “Yeah, they’re idiots. It wasn’t funny, we’re all real sorry,” without that qualifying “but…”, and then suspended the two of them without pay for a month, this would have died out already.

    Instead, they apparently threatened the victim and tried to defend the stunt. Gambaccini had it right: Lesley Douglas (and colleagues at her level) thought Brand was a golden goose who would bring in ratings, and that his antics were genuinely cutting-edge funny. So she let him get away with anything he liked, until it was no longer sustainable. This is no surprise to anyone, Brand fans and haters alike.

    I realize there’s an element of “I told you so” in Gambaccini’s soliloquy, but he can’t be that far off the truth, considering the mentality of the decision makers at the BBC. Even so, if Ms. Douglas thinks Russell Brand is worth all her support, she doesn’t deserve the position of Radio 2 Boss, no matter how charming and wonderful she is in dinner conversation or how knowledgeable she is about the radio biz.

    (Aside from that, what’s up with Gambaccini’s stilted delivery? Is he always this way? Is he an android like Mr. Data? I only heard one contraction (an “I’ve”) in the entire segment. Is that the only way someone with a US accent is allowed on air? I know I do that a bit too much when writing, but it’s really a substitute for vocal inflection, which gives the listener more emotional information than just the words. And he did end his soliloquy with a real pompous “radio is the most special medium” tone. It almost disqualifies any opinion he has of Brand. It seemed weird to me, anyway.)

    This whole thing is just more evidence of how low the bar is set for “comedy” these days. Only one type of humor is allowed.

    I see this as analogous to what’s going on in the US (especially the cartoons being created for the “Adult Swim” block on Cartoon Network): crude is the new clever, blue is the new black. Subtlety no longer comes naturally, but instead takes months of writing and editing to create. Compare and contrast Ricky Gervais live and the writing on The Office. Anything that causes a reaction is “funny”. If I don’t laugh, it’s only because I’m a humorless jerk who is too small-minded and prudish to appreciate the breaking of boundaries, etc.


  24. Hugh Janus says:

    [Meades] is unpopular though, for a reason that escapes me.

    In “Joe Building”, his tour of Stalinist architecture, afollow up to “Jerry Building” – geddit – the Nazi version, Meades was unflinching in his contempt and hatred of the Soviet Union. He didn’t hesitate to conflate the USSR with socialism either. So, I wonder why he isn’t on much? (Rhetorical…)


  25. Biodegradable says:

    So who are all these zany, extremist provocateurs who we all ought to cut some slack from time to time because they all make us all look at life in a new and edgy way?

    They’re all dead, like John Peel, or pensioned off.


  26. The Hum says:

    I posted this on an earlier thread-but it seems relevent here.

    The whole argument regarding comedy being “edgy” is a false economy and really exposes BBC’s mindset regarding attitudes to their audiences.

    I know it’s a matter of taste, but even those who like black comedy (as I do) often find BBC comedy stale and boring.

    Good comedy should be able to transcend age, race or gender, I can think of a few examples that appealed to broad sections of the population AND managed to stay relevant.

    The most obvious programme is Only Fools and Horses. It satirised life on a South London Estate with well rounded characters like Del Boy, Rodney, Granddad, Uncle Albert, and it often touched issues which ordinary folk could identify with, like divorce, unemployment or dealing with local beaurcracy, while having a warmth and humanity which turned it into a much loved institution.

    Another is the Office (before they flogged it to death); anybody who has worked in an office can immediately identify with many of the characters and situations. Blackadder and to a lesser extent the Young Ones obviously had plenty of toilet jokes in it, but again you could laugh at its absurd nature. I’m sure we could all think of other examples.

    Today BBC comedy is lazy, formulaic, cruel and crude. Little Britain and Catherine Tate’s portrayal of various aspects of British (and now American) life is banal and demeaning, with its use of stupid catchphrases and depictions of people which are crass, to get its share of laughs.

    Thursday night seems to rely on the same formulaic “game show” style (Mock the week, Have I Got News for You, Never Mind the Buzz cocks) that they have become interchangeable and are often boring with its re-heated jokes, Deadringers and Harry and Paul are so patchy that you have to sit through dross before you find a funny sketch, and as for the likes of Two Pints or those dreadful Jonny Diamond “comedies”, they are just pale imitations of Peep Show and other C4 shows…..IMVHO the only BBC comedy that has been worthy of watching in the last few years is The Thick of It, Look Around You and QI.

    In short the BBC has developed a school bully sense of humour, better suited to the playground than the TV.

    By appealing to the lowest common denominator (juvenile pre-pubescent boys its seems), and by segregating the audience into some kind of tick-box groups, the BBC has failed to live up to past successes as well as showing a distinct lack of creativity .

    This leads me to think that not only is the BBC morally bankrupt, but also a barren cultural desert as well…….


  27. Kill the Beeb says:

    George R:

    I think you’ll find that Pat Condell video has been reinstated on You Tube for quite some time.


  28. 1327 says:

    I rather enjoyed Monkey Dust on BBC3 but fear they have vanished into the memory hole possibly due to their crap Islamic terrorist characters. It was rumoured that Chris Morris was looking for funding of a comedy on the same subject (he wanted to make them a laughing stock) but was turned down by both the Beeb and Channel 4.

    From time to time BBC Radio 7 has some good new comedy such the Penny Dreadfuls recently. But none of it seems to breakthrough onto Radio 4 possibly due to none of them being SWP’ers.

    Sadly BBC TV comedy seems to have been stuck in a rut since the late 1980’s with the same old people turning up all the time. The only new people allowed have to have same views and opinions as the old ones such as Marcus Brigstocke.


  29. archduke says:

    just watch the Colbert Report or the Daily Show to find cutting edge satire.

    colbert being interviewed by bill o’reilly has to be one of the funniest things in years..

    oh wait. thats american.

    and not the bbc.

    why dont they give Chris Morris a job?


  30. Jeff says:

    Biodegradable “They’re all dead, like John Peel, or pensioned off.”

    Ah yes, John Peel. That national BBC institution! That sneering, privately educated, upper-middle-class socialist ponce, who achieved cult statues by never having had a proper job in his life and for collecting vast libraries of music that was sent to him for nothing – and for discovering musical legends like The Fall and Pulp!

    Worth every penny!

    God bless him and God bless the BBC!



  31. archduke says:
    “Obama Jokes His White Half Will Be Confused of Who to Vote for”

    now thats what i call edgy comedy… and thats a U.S. presidential candidate!


  32. HSLD says:

    The only episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks I can bear to watch is when they had Lemmy from Motorhead on.
    He refused to play by the rules and it had to be cut to hell, so that snidey little smartarse Mark Lamarr didn’t appear to be shitting himself quite so badly.


  33. Reimer says:

    “why dont they give Chris Morris a job?
    archduke | 01.11.08 – 12:29 am |”

    Good question, given how unpleasant much of his stuff is.

    A couple of folk remarked upon the torrent of panel shows the past few years on the Beeb. The same smirking faces seem to populate every one of them to a degree that it’s like watching webcams trained upon the interior of the Groucho club.

    ‘Little Britain’ had 2 or 3 good jokes that they just did to death (what’s the US-targeted version like?) whilst ‘The Office’, though good in places, didn’t strike me as the earth-shaker it’s made out to be. I never even went near ‘Extras’, such was the hype and ghastly Soho/Hollywood-linkup character of its guest-list.

    the last thing on the BBC that struck me as hard-hitting AND funny was ‘Rab C Nesbitt’.

    Interesting that they don’t dare repeat even ‘Till Death Us Do Part’ and its follow-ups, in spite of their clearly being contrived to discredit Alf’s values. Even voicing such views in a comedic context is too ghastly to contemplate evidently.



  34. Ron ToddT says:


    Also should mention the drugs and under age girl.


  35. Arthur Dent says:

    “The Wrong Door” on BBC3 was pretty good in a post pythonesque mould.

    I also liked Lab Rats but then I am a pretty geeky person


  36. George R says:

    Daily Mail:

    “Alison Pearson on the age of infantilism: Why the BBC has been too scared to pull the plug on Jonatrhan Ross’s ‘edgy comedy'”


  37. Zevilyn says:

    The striking thing about the BBC’s comedy output is how safe it is, despite its claims to being “edgy”.

    US shows are far bolder, in fact. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s shows don’t shy away from jokes about race whereas their UK counterparts avoid any race jokes mocking anyone other than whites.

    Family Guy, South Park, and even the Simpsons have more courage than BBC comedy, with its safe stereotypes and easy targets.
    Frankie Boyle is the only panellist on Mock the Week who has a true grasp of satire.

    The fact that Brigstocke thinks there are some things that should not be mocked shows he is not fit to be called a satirist, as a true satirist (like Morris) does not discriminate.


  38. Ms. Know says:

    Right, but because they didn’t insult her, the mainstream media illuminati didn’t want to cover it. Anything horrible to Palin would have been worthy of press.