Friday, 15 June 2007

The spirit of Dr Bowdler

When it first aired 30 years ago in less politically correct times, nobody batted an eyelid at the risque comments made in the prison comedy Porridge.

Ronnie Barker's character Fletcher was always ribbing his fellow inmates, not least Lukewarm, the outlandishly camp chef played by Christopher Biggins.

But three decades on, one particular remark has caused outrage, because it has been removed from a repeat.

Fans of the sitcom, which regularly pulled in more than 10 million viewers, have accused the BBC of "giving in to the politically correct brigade" after a phrase was removed from the programme on Saturday.

They claim the comment "that sort do, don't they", referring to Lukewarm's ability to keep his cell clean, was taken out because it could be offensive to homosexuals.
This decision is ridiculous in a variety of different ways. For a start, picking on this particularly innocuous innuendo is ludicrous, since one routinely hears far more crude and, potentially, offensive innuendo regarding homosexuals (and heterosexuals, for that matter) broadcast by people like Graham Norton, without any efforts towards censorship.

One also has to wonder, since it is apparently now the case that, not only will new shows be prevented from including non-PC content, but that existing TV shows will be retrospectively edited years after their creation, in order to ensure that they conform to the standards of today's PC liberals, where this latter-day Bowdlerisation will end. Will we, for example, see Aristophanes' couplet from The Frogs, "Oh, what's come over Cleisthenes, he looks so full of care/he's lost his lovely boyfriend and his sad cries rend the air" removed, a mere two and a half thousand years after being written, lest it cause offence to homosexuals? In the present climate, that wouldn't surprise me at all.


Marcusa said...

It is also happening on BBC Radio 7, before the repeat of an episode of 'Whatever happened to the Likely Lads' the continuity announcer said that the programme reflected attitudes of that time c1976.
Would they say the same about Bill Shakespeare, Charlie Dickens et al. Listen & despair!

Fulham Reactionary said...

I recently read Mary Shelley's relatively little known (especially when compared to Frankenstein) novel, The Last Man. One of the reviews on Amazon gave the book a rating of just 2/5, not on the grounds that it was badly written, but because it often reflected viewpoints that were "stuck in 1830". Leaving aside the fact that two of the main accusations made merely indicated that the reviewer had not read the book very thoroughly, one has to say, if you don't like 1820s attitudes, don't read books written in 1826!

Sadly, this kind of thought doesn't occur very often to PC liberals - they'd rather just Bowdlerise everything, or at least stick warning labels on it complaining of "bigotry".