Britain’s publicly funded broadcaster, the BBC, has been quietly censoring radio rebroadcasts of classic comedy shows, memory-holing jokes deemed too politically incorrect for modern audiences.
A number of skits from classic comedy shows have been memory-holed entirely by the BBC, with the UK’s national broadcaster quietly editing re-broadcasts of old programming to remove supposedly offensive elements of the shows.
The broadcaster has previously come under fire for censoring classic televisions shows, being called “cowardly and gutless” as a result.
According to a report by The Times, however, the state-broadcaster has also been stripping out segments deemed racist, misogynistic, or otherwise unacceptable in the modern age from re-aired versions of old radio versions of shows.
Shows such as Dad’s Army, Steptoe and Son and I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again have been hit by censorship according to the publication, with some sketches being stripped from rebroadcasted programmes entirely.
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Frequent targets of censorship are jokes revolving around sexuality, gender relations and race, with mentions of now-disgraced stars, such as Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris, also often ending up on the cutting room floor.
For example, in one 1971 episode of Steptoe and Son, the word “poofy” was cut from a rebroadcast, with other offensive terms being stripped from Dad’s Army and Lines From My Grandfather’s Forehead episodes.
Meanwhile, a 1970 episode of I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again had an entire sketch cut that involved a gag about scantily dressed women seen on Top of the Pops.
“We have noticed that it is possible to see right up to the girls’ knickers, owing to the shortness of their miniskirts, so we’ve asked the girls to drop them,” legendary actor John Cleese said while parodying a spokesman for the BBC during the bit.
On the cuts, The Times reports a spokesman from the BBC as saying that edits to shows are made so that they are “suitable for broadcast”.
“Listeners enjoy a huge number of old comedies from the archives on 4 Extra and on occasion, we edit some episodes so they’re suitable for broadcast today, including removing racially offensive language and stereotypes from decades ago, as the vast majority of our audience would expect,” the spokesman said.
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The BBC has been caught memory-holing old jokes before, with Cleese himself slamming the “cowardly and gutless” broadcaster for removing an entire episode of Fawlty Towers over the presence of a racial slur.
“The BBC is now run by a mixture of marketing people and petty bureaucrats,” Cleese said. “It used to have a large sprinkling of people who’d actually made programmes. Not any more.”
“So BBC decisions are made by persons whose main concern is not losing their jobs… That’s why they’re so cowardly and gutless and contemptible,” he continued.
However, the future of the woke broadcaster is now under serious threat thanks to a government proposal to scrap the BBC’s licence fee tax by 2028.
The move comes as the British government roll out “Operation Red Meat“, a bid seemingly to save Boris Johnson’s premiership after the Conservative leader has been plagued with calls to resign as a result of “partygate“.
Seemingly one of the government’s “red meat” policies, the future change has prompted much gnashing of teeth within the state broadcaster, though the UK’s Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries, has said that the BBC should be able to adapt like any other business.
“The days of the elderly being threatened with prison sentences and bailiffs knocking on doors are over,” Dorries said regarding the measure.
“Time now to discuss and debate new ways of funding, supporting and selling great British content,” she continued.
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