Harry and Paul stir up a diplomatic incident

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The Independent Culture

In 1986, three young comedians called Harry Enfield, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie hit Channel 4 in a new series: Saturday Live. Twenty-two years later, Fry is a national treasure, Laurie is an American national treasure and Enfield has just caused an international diplomatic incident.

The sketch that has caused the problems appeared in the current BBC show Harry and Paul, and had Enfield playing a southern toff who tries to mate his pet northerner (Paul Whitehouse) to the neighbour's Filipina maid.

The Philippines' ambassador to the UK has called it "very malicious and... a blatant display of racial prejudice", while northerners have been incensed. The UK embassy in Manila issued a statement saying: "The UK respects freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas." Or, as Kevin the Teenager might put it: "It's not fair."

'An outrageous sketch'

In the BBC's 'Harry and Paul', Enfield played a posh southerner who advises a Filipina maid to 'present your rear' to a pet northern man (Paul Whitehouse), outraging the Philippine embassy, women's groups and expatriates.

Ozzy sees red

In 'Celeb', in 2002, Enfield played the ageing rock star Gary Bloke. A cease and desist letter was sent by lawyers for Ozzy Osbourne, who refused to believe that it was based on a 'Private Eye' cartoon, not on him.

Churchill jibe falls flat

In a 2005 TV ad for Madasafish broadband service, Enfield called Winston Churchill a 'porky Prime Minister' and accused him of downloading a saucy picture of General Montgomery. The ad was withdrawn.

Down the pan

The 2000 film 'Kevin and Perry Go Large' featured scenes of masturbation, spots and (eeew!) parental sex, but the scene that really offended involved a lavatorial mishap, a freak wave and Enfield's mouth. Truly horrific.