Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Ben Elton and BBC Bias

Another day, another celebrity attacking the BBC for bias. Ben Elton told a Christian magazine that the BBC was scared of Islam jokes. He said:

There’s no doubt about it, the BBC will let vicar gags pass but they would not let imam gags pass. They might pretend that it’s, you know, something to do with their moral sensibilities, but it isn’t. It’s because they’re scared. I know these people.
He added:
I wanted to use the phrase ‘Muhammad came to the mountain’ and everybody said, ‘Oh, don’t! Just don’t! Don’t go there!’ It was nothing to do with Islam, I was merely referring to the old proverb, ‘If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain.’ And people said, ‘Let’s just not!’

It’s incredible. I’m quite certain that the average Muslim does not want everybody going around thinking, ‘We can’t mention you. We’ve just got to pretend you don’t exist because we’re scared that somebody who claims to represent you will threaten to kill us.’
The BBC didn't agree. A spokeswoman said:
No subject is off limits for BBC comedy. The treatment should not cause harm or offence as defined by the BBC's Editorial Guidelines or breach other BBC Guidelines. There is no evidence that the BBC is afraid to tackle difficult subjects.
No evidence? Dear me. Not that long ago the BBC held an "impartiality summit" and during a discussion concerning Room 101 - a comedy show - most of the BBC staff present including senior staff said that they would allow the Bible and the Archbishop of Canterbury to be thrown into Room 101 but not a Koran.

What evidence do the BBC need then, one wonders?