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…”

Oh dear.

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.

12 comments on “Not A Good Day

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  • The sitcom struggles now because the world has turned into a horrible, horrible place. That just about sums things up, right enough…

  • The world has always been horrible, perf. It’s just harder these days to pretend that it isn’t.

  • Yeah, Chris is way off the mark in saying Brittas would be “too insensitive” for modern audiences. If anything, a lot of comedy is nastier and self-consciously dark nowadays. Gordon seems like an angel compared to some of the characters around today. Many still lap up Ricky Gervais’s schtick and cringe comedy is pretty big business. Changing times, innit.

    I suspect Chris may just have to deal with the fact that only a relatively small portion of people are itching to see his other big 90’s show return…

  • > Yeah, Chris is way off the mark in saying Brittas would be “too insensitive” for modern audiences.

    You could guarantee there’d be complaints to Ofcom about a number of things in Brittas. Everybody now takes ‘offence’ to things, as opposed to genuine offence.

  • I can’t help but think it’s always been like that, though. Is it really likely there are more Ofcom complaints now than there were in the 80s?

  • The world has always been horrible, perf. It’s just harder these days to pretend that it isn’t.

    Especially when the people it’s been most horrible to can say it is, and why, in open forum like they really couldn’t 20 years ago.

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