The alleged offences took place as long as 45 years ago, but it’s only in the last few weeks that rape allegations made against Bill Cosby have had any noticeable effect on his career. NBC has scrapped a TV project which the US comedian had in development, Netflix has shelved his stand up special, and repeats of 1980s sitcom The Cosby Show have been pulled by cable station TV Land.
This has become broadcasters’ standard procedure in the wake of such allegations. It’s horrifying to think that high-profile sex offenders are now a regular enough phenomenon to warrant a ‘standard procedure’, but here we are, anyway. Welcome to 21st century television. The BBC has attempted to edit Savile out of its TOTP2 re-run catalogue (although not entirely successfully) and there are no re-runs of Rolf Harris’s Animal Hospital or Stuart Hall’s It’s A Knockout currently scheduled on British television. Now that we know what we know, such light entertainment no longer makes for ‘light’ viewing.
The same is true of the hugely successful sitcom which revolved around Dr Cliff Huxtable, a curmudgeonly, yet cuddly father-of-five with a fondness for garish wooly jumpers. I tried to watch an episode on YouTube yesterday and couldn’t get past the first five minutes without feeling queasy. In this case, however, we’ve lost more that just a nostalgic comfort.
The Cosby Show was the first hit TV show to feature a predominantly African-American cast. It also upended TV stereotypes current at the time by portraying a black family that was wealthy, educated and stable. This success paved the way not only for the spin-off, A Different World, but for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (the sitcom which launched Will Smith’s career) the UK’s own Desmond’s and also, arguably, serious drama like The Wire. Will that legacy, at least, remain intact?
Bill Cosby: Career in pictures
Bill Cosby: Career in pictures
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Winner of his first Emmy for 'I Spy' is Bill Cosby being congratulated by his wife Camille held at Americana Hotel, 1966
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Bill Cosby in 'I Spy', 1960s
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Bill Cosby in July 1973 in Perth
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Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor in 'California Suite', 1978
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Bill Cosby and Elmo in Sesame Street, 1989
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Bill Cosby poses for a picture with Florence Griffith-Joyner in June 1989
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Comedian Bill Cosby back in 1992
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A scene from a 1992 episode of 'The Cosby Show'
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US Monica Seles breaks into laughter as she jokes with comedian Bill Cosby during a celebrity match in the stadium at the US Open for the Arthur Ashe AIDS Challenge on 27 August 1995
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Bill Cosby meets Toronto Blue Jays' All-Star Joe Carter after the Stars played the Stripes in the Celebrity All-Star game which preceded workouts for the 67th All-Star Game at Veterans Stadium on 8 July 1996 in Philadephia
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Co-hosts Oprah Winfrey and Bill Cosby joke with each other during the opening of the 2000 Essence Awards 14 April 2000 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City
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Bill Cosby jokes with baseball great Hank Aaron after they both received the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award from U.S. President George W. Bush during a ceremony on 9 July 2002 at the White House in Washington
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Bill Cosby poses backstage after winning the 'Bob Hope Humanitarian Award' during the 55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on 21 September 2003 in Los Angeles
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'Tonight Show' host Jay Leno and comedian Bill Cosby laugh during a surprise visit by Cosby to sign a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that Leno is using to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina at NBC studios on 9 September 2005 in Burbank, California
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Bill Cosby speaks during a taping of 'Meet the Press' at the NBC studios on 14 October 2007 in Washington
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Bill Cosby at the 12th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the John F. Kennedy Center on 26 October 2009 in Washington
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Bill Cosby speaks at the National Action Network's 20th annual Keepers of the Dream Awards gala in New York on 6 April 2011
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Bill Cosby during the 100th anniversary celebration of the Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows supporting the Motion Picture & Television Fund and the American Comedy Fund, 2012
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Bill Cosby speaks onstage at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund 25th Awards Gala on 11 November 2013 in Washington
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Bill Cosby performs at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino on 26 September 2014 in Las Vegas
Why Simon Cowell is still Chloe's God
You’ll remember reality TV regular Chloe Jasmine - if not from the current series of X Factor (which she exited last month), then from her first X Factor audition in 2006, or perhaps from her appearance on Sky Living’s The Face in 2013. Gossip columnists are all aghast at Ms Jasmine’s decision to demurely decline the offer of a spot in the Celebrity Big Brother house. Does this mean the shy wallflower is retiring to the shadows?
I think not. A story in this week’s Sun suggests Chloe Jasmine has simply skipped the fame-hungry stage of stardom and is heading straight for loopy spiritual epiphanies instead. Her statement confirming a romance with fellow X-Factor contestant Stevi Ritchie read like something off Goop, the blog by Gwyneth “concious uncoupling” Paltrow: “Our romance happened organically” quoth Chloe. “We were talking about spiritual planes and then we kissed...I'm not ashamed of what I did, because I believe it was part of God's divine plan.” For ‘God’, read ‘Simon Cowell’.
Idris Elba, Mr Blobby and other music inspired by TV
BBC One has confirmed two new episodes of detective series Luther for 2015, but that’s not the most exciting upcoming project for its star Idris Elba. This week the actor released his debut album, Idris Elba Presents mi Mandela, and he’s expressed an interest in making more music - this time to tie in with his TV roles on Luther and The Wire. “That could create some real good songs, and definitely an interesting mood, musically,” he told Radio 4
Elba’s creative energy might inspire, but the history of TV-music crossovers, sadly, does not. This is a genre in which the most musically accomplished release is 1994‘s Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble by PJ & Duncan (later Ant & Dec). Take heart though, Idris, what TV pop lacks in credibility, it makes up for in chart success; the Teletubbies, Bob The Builder and Mr Blobby have all had Christmas No.1s.
The Paedophile Next Door, 4oD
Irresponsible shock doc? Or important conversation starter? Historian Steve Humphries’ documentary about how attitudes to paedophila might prevent us tackling child abuse certainly had people talking. The stand-out section was an interview with Eddie, a self-confessed paedophile who says he has never abused a child. Eddie believes people like him should be offered treatment before they offend, not after.
The Missing, BBC iPlayer
It could easily have been an annoying gimmick, but The Missing’s split chronology (half of the scenes take place in 2006 and the rest in the present day) really came into its own in this week’s masterful, climatic episode. This is a drama in which it’s not only the future which is unguessable, but the past and the present too.
Nigel Slater’s Icing on the Cake, BBC iPlayer
This was food porn. There’s no denying it, and in fact some of the shots of cream oozing out of a victoria sponge should probably have come with an age-rating, but Nigel Slater still stimulates our memories almost as much as our taste buds. He can’t be the only man in Britain whose feelings for a shop-bought fondant fancy border on religious.
Music Nation: British Asian Rave, 4oD
Here’s another great documentary from Music Nation, with much more to say than the 30 minute time-slot allows. Looking back at the pre 9/11 90s bhangra scene, the film asks poignant questions about British Asian identity via contributions from actor and MC Riz Ahmed, Asian Dub Foundation and Talvin Singh, among others.Reuse content