Update from Iain Banks »« Christina Amphlett has died

Now I understand why the BBC pulled it

The BBC recently broadcast a program for the charity Comic Relief, but yanked one sketch deemed too offensive from their online iPlayer. They’d apparently received thousands of complaints about it, and it was the only sketch on the program found so horribly offensive.

Apparently, regulators are now investigating the BBC, and the ever-charming Daily Mail is blustering that “BBC faces Ofcom probe into Rowan Atkinson’s foul-mouthed Comic Relief archbishop impression”. Rowan Atkinson? Foul-mouthed comic? Did they confuse him with Gilbert Gottfried or something?

So I finally got a look at the ghastly wicked sketch, and now I see why it got people upset. Here it is:

Oh, yeah, that’s some primo religion bashing. “Foul-mouthed” is the wrong word, though: Rowan Atkinson’s sin was being deadly accurate, perfectly portraying the cheerfully vapid fluttery chumminess of a thoroughly liberal Christian. That’s what got people angry: he didn’t just start roaring at religious leaders, he showed the viewers what they looked like through our eyes…and it was also so damned close to how the believers see them, too, that it wasn’t easily dismissed and was a palpable smack in the face.

Excellent work, Rowan Atkinson!

Comments

  1. says

    He played the Archbishop once on Blackadder also. No one seemed to to complain about that, not even the part where he was talking about selling a pair of fake Mary Magdalene breasts,

  2. Tyrant al-Kalām says

    Wow, the man is good!
    I’d like to know what the Archbishop thinks of it… As someone who’s extensively worked in the oil industry, he’ll probably appreciate this portrayal of oily charm :)

  3. carlie says

    Was it arsed and shagged that got them mad? Still funny that those are considered such rude terms, when they’re so… oblique. As for the portrayal, there didn’t seem anything too blasphemous about the views he pretended to espouse.

  4. carlie says

    And before anybody tries to pounce and say “A-HA!”, no that’s not the same as “but it’s the same with that particular slur”. No, it isn’t, arsed and shagged don’t refer to inherent traits of only a certain subset of people.

  5. angrymudcrab says

    You know, I’m glad they got all offended by it. If they hadn’t, I probably would not have seen the sketch. Streisand effect ftw!

  6. stanton says

    THAT was offensive?

    Yes, vermin in human-shape take great offense at being rightfully mocked, or even having a strong light shone upon them or their behavior.

  7. WharGarbl says

    “‘Ofcom can confirm that it is currently investigating whether the use of offensive language on Comic Relief: Funny for Money was justified by context and whether the BBC applied generally accepted standards in the programme.’”
    Okay, a society that treats terrorist attacks as an inconvenience, goes completely bat-shit crazy over a few naughty words…
    Not sure what to think about that.

  8. KillJoy says

    Stanton: Dont ever let them read my Twitter feed then. I’m sure to cause some head explodey. and possibly go and get myself all murderfied.

  9. Draken says

    Sort the comments on the Daily Horror by Best rated. Check the highest 10. The Mirror’s readers seem to have more sense than its editors.

  10. Louis says

    Killjoy, #8,

    Exactly. It’s about as offensive as a non-offensive thing that is going out of its way to be particularly non-offensive.

    Anyway, the Daily Mail is part of a concerted anti-Beeb campaign (and in the wake of the Brand/Ross “scandal” the BBC has about as much spine as a puddle of lukewarm spit). The Mail’s owners/editors are genuinely, along with Murdoch media and sundry charming funsters, out to get the Beeb. And under a conservative, reactionary government like we have at the moment, they’re likely to do some damage. It’s a mouthpiece for it’s editor Paul Dacre (a truly odious individual) and its major shareholder Viscount Rothermere (who’s great grandad, incidentally, was responsible for the paper’s support of Oswald Moseley and the British Union of Fascists. Oh yes, this is a publication with form!). It plays host to Peter Hitchens, Melanie Phillips, Jan Moir, and Richard Littlejohn. Bastions of intellectual gifts and careful thought to an individual…not.

    This is, as ever, a dishonest little sally in the war on the (unique and indeed imperfect) Beeb from the UK’s right wing press, as if the Establishment fawning BBC has ever been some conspiracy of leftist politics (it hasn’t). It’s a manufacturversy pure and simple.

    It is a rag not fit to wipe one’s arse with for fear of infecting one’s anus with the spewings of bilious mental pygmies who read and write it.

    Louis

  11. carolw says

    Offensive? Really? That was sweet, charming, and hilarious. Rowan Atkinson all the way.

  12. DLC says

    I’m sorry, but I take great offense at the entire thing. First off, he wasn’t smarmy enough by half! an Arch-Bishop should be top rated at smarmy. Second, what’s all this about Jesus approving of One Direction? Everyone knows the only direction is Straight and Right. Seriously, how can anyone expect to live in fear of an imaginary deity when his voice on earth is a weak-wristed un-smarmy fellow like that ?
    No, no, it simply won’t do. I insist that BBC publish an apology and promise to do much better next time.

  13. robro says

    Perhaps it was because he is use of the “F-word”. Not the actual F-word, mind, but “F-word” itself. This implies the actual F-word thus bringing it to everyone’s mind. Oh, horrors!! Pagan, peasant Anglo-Saxon sex words!! Bring me my Vulgate, I need to read some Latin.

  14. thumper1990 says

    Ah, I love Rowan Atkinsons religious sketches. His manner is perfect for playing clergy.

    I was gonna do a whole bit about that malodorous piece of shit, the Daily fail; but it appears Louis ahs beaten me to it.

    Suffice to say I dislike it, it’s employees, and it’s regular readers (especially the readers who write write in and appear on the letters page) intensely.

  15. thumper1990 says

    Why can’t I type today? Apologies for the atrocious grammar, spelling and syntax, people.

  16. Gregory Greenwood says

    Blackadder was my favourite of Rowan Atkinson’s roles, especially beacuse it used to really annoy all the local conservatives.

    In many ways, this is classic Atkinson; the oblique mockery that doesn’t rant or rave, but still strikes at the heart of why some over inflated pomposity (in this case religion) is so very ridiculous. Of course, the real reason why so many god botherers were so offended is because Atkinson commited the cardinal sin – forget the ten commandments, the only ‘sin’ that really matters to the xians, both ‘moderate’ and extreme, is telling the unvarnished truth. Stripping away all the layers of fawning respect and unearned privilege heaped upon religion by our society in order to show it for the ignoble, irrational and milquetoast little con-job cargo-cult that it is.

    In any age before this one, I am sure that the god botherers would be demanding that he be burned at the stake posthaste, and as Hitchens pointed out, when they lost that particular authority, their most convincing argument died the same day.

  17. A. Noyd says

    I think one of the most “offensive” aspects of it is how Atkinson’s character is so blatantly invoking god/Jesus to validate own opinions. I mean, that’s what religious people everywhere do, but they sure as fuck don’t want it pointed out.

  18. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    Oh, he’s good.

    Maybe they were offended because he said prayer doesn’t work, but it’s a good part of the getting to sleep routine (I second that and recommend the rosary. I rarely finished the first round before falling asleep) .

  19. Gregory Greenwood says

    WharGarbl @ 11;

    Okay, a society that treats terrorist attacks as an inconvenience, goes completely bat-shit crazy over a few naughty words…
    Not sure what to think about that.

    Religious power and privilege in the UK is not as obvious as it is in the US, but it still runs through all levels of society over on this side of the pond. Its usual manifestation is one of that perennial British malaise – the selective horror at any form of *gasp, clutch pearls* rudeness.

    You see, it is just fine to spew all kinds of hatred and bigotry, and everyone will nod sagely along and make appeals to precious free speech, but if you are so rude toward certain privileged groups or institutions in society (such as the Anglican Chruch) that you would suggest that maybe they are wrong on some issues, are sometimes harmful, or are anything less than a cornerstone of ‘essential Britishness’ (whatever the heck that is), then you will instantly be branded ‘shrill’, ‘uncivil’ and just the most awful kind of person – that is where Dawkin’s largely unearned reputation as a priest-eviscerating, christian-hating firebrand began; not in the god-soaked USA as many imagine, but back in ‘Ole Blighty, where a national shortage of fainting couches was induced by his failure to be suitably respectful to the clergy.

    The general attituide is one that it is fine to be godless, but

    By all means don’t believe (most people over here admit that religion is a bit silly behind closed doors) but you must never make any forceful statement of atheism publicly, and you must always show the utmost respect to the faithist notion that religion is some kind of automatic, generalised social good and that clergymen really are spiffing fellows. If you break this unwritten rule in so high profile a fashion as Atkinson has, then you can bet that people who are otherwise largely disinterested in religion will suddenly get very hot under the collar indeed.

    As for the treatment of terrorism as an inconvenience, that is simply an expression of the increasingly toxic and problematic idea of the ‘Blitz mentality’ and the ‘stiff upper lip’ – that Brits are supposedly somehow uniquely resiliant to peril and hardship, and that any kind of attack only strengthens us. A bombing is seen as a challenge to our identity as a ‘proud island race’ that is best responded to by ignoring it or treating it as the same kind of minor annoyance as a short term power failure. It is sometimes remarked that we are much better at dealing with terrorism than we we are with a little moderate snowfall, or more accurately, that we work hard at conveying the impression that we are better at dealing with it. It is largely a case of smoke and mirrors, and harking back to what many of us have been taught all our lives was Britain’s ‘finest hour’ – the laughably ahistorical myth that we almost singlehandedly saved the ‘free world’ from nazism by our steadfast defiance, before the ‘johnny-come-lately Yank glory hounds’ turned up at the end of the war and ‘claimed all the credit’…

  20. IslandBrewer says

    Wow! The tone and cadence of the voice, the forced chummy smile, the thinly veiled threat of disapproval while simultaneously desperate for acceptance – he got Anglican clergy thing down. Good ole C or E.

  21. thumper1990 says

    Religious power and privilege in the UK is not as obvious as it is in the US, but it still runs through all levels of society over on this side of the pond. Its usual manifestation is one of that perennial British malaise – the selective horror at any form of *gasp, clutch pearls* rudeness.

    You see, it is just fine to spew all kinds of hatred and bigotry, and everyone will nod sagely along and make appeals to precious free speech, but if you are so rude toward certain privileged groups or institutions in society (such as the Anglican Chruch) that you would suggest that maybe they are wrong on some issues, are sometimes harmful, or are anything less than a cornerstone of ‘essential Britishness’ (whatever the heck that is), then you will instantly be branded ‘shrill’, ‘uncivil’ and just the most awful kind of person – that is where Dawkin’s largely unearned reputation as a priest-eviscerating, christian-hating firebrand began; not in the god-soaked USA as many imagine, but back in ‘Ole Blighty, where a national shortage of fainting couches was induced by his failure to be suitably respectful to the clergy.

    The general attituide is one that it is fine to be godless, but…

    By all means don’t believe (most people over here admit that religion is a bit silly behind closed doors) but you must never make any forceful statement of atheism publicly, and you must always show the utmost respect to the faithist notion that religion is some kind of automatic, generalised social good and that clergymen really are spiffing fellows. If you break this unwritten rule in so high profile a fashion as Atkinson has, then you can bet that people who are otherwise largely disinterested in religion will suddenly get very hot under the collar indeed.

    QFT. Gregory displays a stunning level of accuracy.

  22. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    The religious fear ridicule more than they fear anything else precisely because they are so ridiculous.

    In their eyes, it is not enough for everyone to simply believe the absurd, everyone must believe the same absurdity so no one sees how absurd it is.

  23. Sastra says

    What worries me about this is how sheepish and embarrassed poor Rowan Atkinson must feel, to be called “offensive” and “foul-mouthed.,” If there’s one thing that comedians — particularly satirical comedians like Rowan Atkinson — really hate, it’s the disapproval and approbation of people in power. It’s so much more cheerful — so much funnier — to get along well with those you skewer and refuse to step over that line where humor goes from being soft and squishy to pointed and barbed.

    Well, I’m sure Rowan Atkinson is re-thinking his strategy now and we will have no more of these thoughtless and rude goings on going on any more. He will now become mellow, chastened and the wiser for it. A pity, rather.

  24. Muz says

    I bet it was mostly him representing himself as the head CofE official and supposedly telling children that praying doesn’t work which really set them off.

  25. says

    I am amazed that people were offended by Rowan Atkinson but at the same time had no problem with the dreadful charity song by one direction.

    Priorities people, priorities!

  26. Rich Woods says

    Sad to say, this sketch was pretty weak by Rowan Atkinson’s normal standards. In that sense it says even more about the complainers than it does about the source of their complaint — maybe the current generation just don’t realise how much persecution their forefathers suffered!

  27. =8)-DX says

    Hur-larious! Actually what was funniest about it was how lightheartedly non-offensive it was. Even the religious should take a joke on red nose day and I can’t imagine most brits having a problem with this. Oh perhaps the same people who complained about Life of Brian (if they’re still alive).

  28. Jonathan Potter says

    The Daily Mail article says the sketch was 6 minutes long but these You Tube clips are only 3. Either they can’t count or there’s a missing three minutes of salaciousness that no doubt changes the tune entirely!

  29. WharGarbl says

    @Gregory
    #26

    As for the treatment of terrorism as an inconvenience, that is simply an expression of the increasingly toxic and problematic idea of the ‘Blitz mentality’ and the ‘stiff upper lip’ – that Brits are supposedly somehow uniquely resiliant to peril and hardship, and that any kind of attack only strengthens us. A bombing is seen as a challenge to our identity as a ‘proud island race’ that is best responded to by ignoring it or treating it as the same kind of minor annoyance as a short term power failure. It is sometimes remarked that we are much better at dealing with terrorism than we we are with a little moderate snowfall, or more accurately, that we work hard at conveying the impression that we are better at dealing with it.

    I fail to see how ANY of that is a bad thing.
    As compared to the US response, “Motherfucker! Let’s bomb them Arabs! Get TSA in every air-port! Suspend human rights!”
    Or Russia/China’s response, “Terrorist blew up a building. We level a village.”
    Even if its just an impression… still very impressive.

    It is largely a case of smoke and mirrors, and harking back to what many of us have been taught all our lives was Britain’s ‘finest hour’ – the laughably ahistorical myth that we almost singlehandedly saved the ‘free world’ from nazism by our steadfast defiance, before the ‘johnny-come-lately Yank glory hounds’ turned up at the end of the war and ‘claimed all the credit’…

    As opposed to us Americans, many who think that we single handed won WWII (disregarding the fact that it was Russia who bled the Nazi dry).
    While not singlehandedly, it’s still pretty impressive. I think (and I believe historians agrees) Britain defiance do contribute to the downfall of Nazi Germany (force Nazi to maintain a two front war. One against Russia, the other against Britain and the French/Polish/etc resistance).

  30. Hugh Randolph says

    At 1.20 he says “fucking rude” not “very rude” – I don’t know which version was broadcast as I didn’t watch it live. It would perhaps have been an error to go with the former although for me much funnier in context.

  31. spandrel says

    I’m surprised Anglicans are offended by this. They usually have a pretty good sense of humour about themselves and are self-aware of their own ridiculousness. I could imagine this video being produced by Anglicans, changing nothing.

    That British Anglicans complained about this in large numbers does not speak well of them.

  32. Matt G says

    When I saw that skit the first time, I immediately thought of one (and then a second) Episcopal priest of my acquaintance. Their absurd sincerity is positively nauseating. Do they all train at the same clown academy?

  33. Acolyte of Sagan says

    Do you not see what’s happening yet? The Christians are playing offended-er than thou with the Muslims.

  34. exi5tentialist says

    @otranreg, #33

    That sketch is full of lies. Atkinson claims to be in St Stephen’s Church in the West Country, whereas the church illustrated in the credits is St James, Poole. Bloody atheists couldn’t even follow a satnav to the right church.

  35. Marcus Hill (dripping with unearned privilege) says

    Daily Fail in overreaction and deliberately taking offense shocker. Whatever next?

  36. dannysichel says

    Rowan Atkinson? Piffle.

    What you need is “Pleasant Irish Priests in Conversation”, from Codco.

  37. says

    Reason for the investigation? “It is believed to be probing the sketch for offensive language and religious offense”.

    Its time for a major push against this “religious offense” bullshit.

  38. says

    I’m Christian and I think this is hilarious. Surprised it was considered controversial because the wonderful series Father Ted has been running in the UK and Ireland since 1995. Priests Ted and Dougal share a bedroom, Dougal is atheist, Ted takes regular liberties with the parish finances, Father Jack who lives with them is an alcoholic in a continuous state of delirium tremens.