Monday, 30 April 2018

I hate it when people whose work I admire - like TV comedy scriptwriter Graham Linehan - reveal themselves to be leftie cockwombles

I loved the comedy series, Father Ted and The IT Crowd, both co-written by Irishman Graham Linehan, who also worked on other personal favourites, such as The Fast Show and Brass Eye. As Father Ted and Brass Eye frequently satirised both old-fashioned conventional attitudes and political correctness - the creed followed by scaredy-cat modern conventionalists - I'd always assumed that Linehan would be a non-virtue signalling political agnostic. I even followed him for a while on Twitter. Then, in the lead-up to the Brexit referendum, he revealed himself to be a standard-issue,  humourless, arrogant, intolerant leftist of  the worst sort - the sort who believes that (as he himself said) “If you’re not Antifa, what the hell are you? Anyone with any morality at all is Antifa,” and who, this last week, has been demanding that the fund to enable Count Dankula to appeal against his conviction for "grossly offensive" speech be shut down - because the bounder is evidently a neo-Nazi waycist!...

...Dankula, as you no doubt know, is the Scottish online "comedian" who posted a video of his grilfriend's pug doing what looked like Nazi salutes, and who was dragged before the Scottish courts and fined £800 for the heinous crime of making a tasteless joke.

I remember experiencing intense embarrassment about eight years ago, when I wandered into our living room, where my son and a German exchange student were watching an old episode of Father Ted. By the time I realised which episode it was, it was too late to think up an excuse to turn over. It was the episode in which Father Ted gains a reputation as a racist - it featured this memorable image:
And I'd been trying so hard not to mention the war! 

Presumably, Linehan was at least partly responsible for this very funny episode, which poked fun at both racial stereotypes and our terrible panic over the whole issue of racism. There was a similar plotline in an episode of The IT Crowd (on which Linehan was the sole writer) where Jen and Roy both face the sack - Jen after being wrongly accused of abusing a homeless woman (she inadvertently tosses a coin into the beggar's unfinished cup of tea), and Roy, after being filmed telling a vertically-challenged barrista that he's too short to do his job properly. How did the comic writer who created those scenarios turn into the sort of po-faced wretch who spends his time accusing everyone of racism, and tries to deny an impecunious comic the means of raising the wherewithal to appeal against an evidently ludicrous conviction? I'd like to think that the old Graham Linehan would have been among the first to contribute to Dankula's fund.

But what's really annoying about all this is that I'll never again be able to enjoy Father Ted or The IT Crowd - two of the funniest sitcoms of the last 25 years - because I won't be able to unlearn the fact that the man who wrote them has turned into exactly the kind of bullying cultural fascist I simply can't abide. 


  1. Isn't this going a bit too far in the face, nose, spite, cut-off department? I can quite see the point of avoiding the gosh-aren't-we-clever nasal whinge-fest that is the News Quiz, even on the rare occasions when Jeremy Hardy is not appearing. Likewise those overtly political comedy programmes on the radio, usually performed by men called Mark. But if you find Father Ted objectively funny and the script doesn't shove the author's political bias down your throat, then file your difficulties with Linehan under "Extraneous Irritation" (a file almost permanently open in my house) and enjoy the programme.

    If it is any help - and I am aware of the strong views of the blog, shared by SDG, about him - I find Marcus Brigstocke very funny. Yes, he's a bit right on (shouldn't it be left on?) but by any standards Think the Unthinkable is both clever and witty, especially the Daisy de Vere character, and he is very good in it. Equally, I can still enjoy Midnight in Paris and Chinatown, despite rather more serious misgivings about the Directors' personal lives.

    Are you sure you're not leaving yourself open to accusations that you have created a safe space in the Gronmark household, with all thoughts of Linehan banished? Points of political principle are all very well but surely not at the expense of having to dump your favourite box sets in next door's skip.

    1. Marcus Brigstocke? May God have mercy on your soul.

      It's worth overcoming one's natural sense of revulsion in the case of great artists such as Wagner and Ezra Pound, partly because Iwe generally knew what they believed before starting to listen to/read them. And I can still enjoy Polanski's films. Maybe it's enjoying something as light and frothy as great sitcoms after their creator has revealed himself to be an utter tool that's the problem. I know I should be able to rise above it - but I just can't.