How very sad and probably true that the comedy series Ab Fab would probably not get commissioned today as the current woke culture would forbid it says the star and writer of the show, Jennifer Saunders.
It seems a shame that a small percentage of the population are now dictating what can and can’t be seen on television, we live in an age when one complaint can take a programme off air even though millions who watched the same show chose not to complain.
Apparently the German episode of Fawly Towers was stopped from transmission, not one might think because of Basils constant mentions of the war and goose-stepping round the room but because the character of the Major uses language which can be termed racist when describing a visit to a cricket test match between India and Great Britain.
In his anecdote, the Major tells Basil Fawlty that he went to the test with a woman who “kept referring to the Indians as niggers. ‘No, no, no,’ I said, ‘the niggers are the West Indians. These people are wogs.'”
The problem here is when John Cleese and Connie Booth wrote the character of Major Gowen, they were clearly not being unthinkingly racist, they were satirising an English upper-class bigot. The joke depends on the audience first thinking that, when the Major rebukes his companion “No, no, no”, he is condemning her for inflammatory language, when it turns out that he is just as bad as she is.
It works as a joke because it shows the Major up as a behind the times racist and the Major is the butt of the joke but it can’t be shown as it is considered politically incorrect today, even though the joke is actually pointing out you can’t use language like that nowadays which is a very woke point of view, which is the strange irony of the situation.
Perhaps the only way to tell this joke nowadays is a scene where two writers are trying to write the same joke taking the mickey out of the racist Major but are unable to find the politically correct words to fill the gaps.
I can see why Jennifer Saunders says Ab Fab would not have been commissioned and I have sympathy for any comedian looking for subjects for his or her next comedy routine as the choice of subjects is getting limited all the time.
Luckily we have very talented new comics like Mickey Flanagan who can produce hilarious politically correct jokes about peeping out from behind closed curtains and are you going out, or are you going out out!