With Dwarf understandably going quiet since the last audience recording, maybe it’s time to check in on the world of Brittas. When we last “reported” on things, a revival was “in development”. Let’s hear what Chris Barrie has to say:
“Regarding the possible return of The Brittas Empire, which caused a moment or two of excitement last year, things have gone very quiet indeed – in fact totally silent. I believe a script was being developed with a view to recording a special or pilot at some stage. So if you are a journalist, don’t bother emailing me about an interview as I would prefer to wait until there is something concrete to talk about and that doesn’t look likely at the moment.”
Oh. Cock it.
Something to ponder: the BBC’s sitcom season this summer contains a number of revivals, which Brittas would have slipped neatly into. The fact that the project hasn’t managed to capitalise on this really isn’t promising, unfortunately.
Mr. Barrie continues:
“I tend to agree with Barry Humphries, of Dame Edna Everage fame, when he recently suggested that political correctness is sterilising modern comedy. I would very much look forward to returning as Gordon Brittas but given that he is probably one of the most insensitive people on earth, I am intrigued to see how he would fit into Twenty First Century Britain. Would he be allowed to say that overweight people should do something about their “thick, unattractive ankles”? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if even this were to make the modern TV executive a tad nervous. As for Carol keeping babies in cupboards…”
Now, I’m not about to pretend that I think everything’s brilliant with British comedy at the moment, nor am I going to suggest that there shouldn’t be far more risk-taking. (Although whether you could seriously say commissioning a Brittas sequel is risk-taking is an argument in itself.) But Chris trotting out the old political correctness argument is tiresome in the extreme. For a start: yes, I really don’t think there’s likely to be much of a problem with Brittas being rude to people. Citizen Khan has done four series of nothing but this, with a fifth in the pipeline. When your main character is a grotesque who we’re not (generally) supposed to agree with, then this isn’t really an issue. Especially when they’re surrounded by more normal characters who make it crystal-clear who the audience is supposed to sympathise with.
As for whether a Brittas revival would be able to push things in a pre-watershed slot in the same way as the original series, that’s a slightly more interesting question. But using the term “political correctness” doesn’t actually tackle this. It’s merely an excuse to not actually have to think about things properly and make a proper argument.
For a rather more nuanced take on the current situation with BBC comedy, I highly recommend this post by comedy writer James Cary. Who, incidentally, counts Red Dwarf as his sixth favourite sitcom of all time. What a nice guy.