Nigsy? Trigger? N-word dilemma bounces on for Dam Busters II

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Name of Wing Commander's dog is headache for remake's producers

A full-scale model of a Lancaster bomber has already been built, as has a replica of the famous bouncing bomb. But producers of a remake of The Dam Busters have yet to resolve one question: what on earth are they to do about a dog called Nigger?

The anachronistically-named black Labrador was the faithful companion of RAF Wing Commander Guy Gibson, who led the British mission to destroy German dams in 1943. The dog is central to the plot: not only was he the mascot of Gibson's 617 Squadron, but after he was killed in a car accident, his name became a codeword for the bombers' prime target.

While the name was still acceptable when the original movie was made in 1954, that is no longer the case. So the film-makers, who include New Zealander Peter Jackson, director of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, are faced with an unenviable choice: ditch historical accuracy or risk widespread offence.

The executive producer, Sir David Frost, asked the actor Stephen Fry, who is writing the script, to propose alternative names, but rejected his suggestions. Sir David declared last month: "Guy sometimes used to call his dog Nigsy, so I think that's what we will call it. Stephen has been coming up with other names, but this is the one I want."

This week, however, Jackson denied that a decision had been made. His assistant, Matthew Dravitzki, told New Zealand's Dominion Post: "To stay true to the story, you can't just change it [the name]. We have not made any decisions yet. The script is still being written, and that decision … will be made closer to the time."

Nigger featured in Paul Brickhill's 1951 book, The Dam Busters, which inspired the film. He also rated 12 mentions in the original movie.

Shooting of the £26m remake is expected to begin later this year, although the cast has yet to be revealed. Jackson, the producer, whetted appetites this week when he unveiled a Lancaster replica in Masterton, north of Wellington.

When the project was announced in 2006, Jackson acknowledged the canine-related difficulties. "It's a situation where you're damned if you do and damned if you don't," he said. "If you go one way, people are going to say we've sold out to political correctness. If you go the other way, you're obviously going to be inadvertently offending people. So it's a no-win scenario."

In 2001 ITV was criticised for editing out all mentions of Nigger's name when it screened the original film. Index on Censorship called the move "unnecessary and ridiculous", while viewers complained that key sections had been omitted. In the US, the film has been screened with the dialogue dubbed to rename the dog Trigger.

Jackson has said that he wants to be faithful to the book and 1954 film. His version, he pledged, would be "as authentic as possible and as close to the spirit of the original as possible".

The Dam Buster raid was one of the RAF's boldest wartime missions, and the remake – to be directed by New Zealand's Christian Rivers – will use details that were still classified in the 1950s. Shooting is expected to take place near Wellington and in Britain.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week