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A debate has kicked off on social media surrounding what is being interpreted as 'left-wing' comedy following reports of comments from the BBC's new director-general Tim Davie.
The new BBC chief will reportedly attempt to tackle comedy shows on television and radio that are perceived as being left-wing and have a bias against the Tories, Brexit and Donald Trump, inside sources told The Telegraph.
It should be noted that Davie isn't due to give his first address in the role until Thursday, with a message sent to BBC staff saying:
My guiding principle is that we are a universal public service, a BBC for all, that serves and represents every part of this country.
Our focus must be to ensure that we deliver outstanding and unique value to all audiences, those who pay for us and are in effect our customers, in return for their licence fee.
To do this we will need to keep reforming the BBC with urgency so that we are trusted, relevant and indispensable in this digital age.
Although no part of Davie's statement has specifically mentioned 'left-wing comedy', the mere thought of comedians having their voices suppressed or the BBC leaning heavily in favour of one political ideology over the other has caused a huge furore on social media and naturally, some are in favour of this as they feel that comedy against right-wing agendas has gone way too far.
This BBC move to axe Left-wing comedy shows is long overdue - but it’s too little, too late
Endless, snobby “joke… https://t.co/uH3WBkSwoT
— Martin Daubney ✌🏻🇬🇧 (@Martin Daubney ✌🏻🇬🇧)
About blinking time . It’s gone way too far . Exclusive: BBC’s new boss threatens to axe Left-wing comedy shows https://t.co/RNS4SrNUKg
This is very welcome indeed. Whilst impartiality is failing on @BBCPolitics news and shows; BBC comedy shows have n… https://t.co/CbtPGZpLsv
— David C Bannerman (@David C Bannerman)
However, to label comedians or comedy shows as left-wing is surely missing the point of comedy.
As many have pointed out, a majority of comedians tend to hit out at those already in power regardless of whether they appeal to the left or right of the political divide.
Shows like Mock the Week, Mash Report and Have I Got News For You have targetted the government, although not exclusively, as at least in the UK, the same party has been in charge for 10 years and have largely dominated the headlines.
I think perhaps comedy became more anti-Tory somewhere around 6th May 2010, just as it became more anti-Labour some… https://t.co/V9eOxTgDmR
In addition to this, what would acceptable 'right-wing comedy' look like in 2020 that doesn't resemble the dated jokes previously said by the likes of Jim Davidson, Roy 'Chubby' Brown and Bernard Manning? Surely not more episodes of Mrs Brown's Boys?
The reason there’s a lack of “right wing” comedy is it mostly just isn’t funny. There therefore isn’t a big market… https://t.co/tVpWK4pq85
Comedians such as Nish Kumar and Frankie Boyle have also been labelled as left-wing in the debate and whether you like them or not, would seem a little short-sighted and incorrect way of pigeon-holing them.
Also, Boris Johnson has hosted Have I Got News For You four times, which would suggest that the show doesn't have one particular political outlook.
This is soul destroying. Comedy isn’t left wing or right wing.
All comedy is rooted in truth. It’s not comedy’s fau… https://t.co/5ZIP8iqry0
— Not Boris Johnson MP #JohnsonOut (@Not Boris Johnson MP #JohnsonOut)
So here's Nish Kumar being a 'lefty' comedian - first of all you only see Soros conspiracy on right wing Brexit a… https://t.co/imZlP4Xbdb
— ℹ️ Not The Torygraph 💙 #SaveOurNHS #ScrapNHSBill (@ℹ️ Not The Torygraph 💙 #SaveOurNHS #ScrapNHSBill)
I'm sure all the people that moan about Nish Kumar and The Mash Report are the same people that claim they don't watch the BBC.
Deriding those that hold the power is a longstanding tradition of comedy. Just look at shows like Spitting Image, which is making a comeback, we should note.
Even in the United States, where the divide between Republicans and Democrats is arguably more fierce than here in the UK, presidents have always been mocked be it Donald Trump or Barack Obama.
As mentioned, Davie is yet to set out what the new course of direction of the BBC will actually be but it would suggest that it is at least preparing to broaden its scope but as shown, to say that the BBC has promoted one agenda over the other during the last five years is churlish and overlooks the point of satirical comedy that mocks politicians.