Alice Jones: Bland comedy on the Beeb? Don't make me laugh


Related Topics

Sauciness. That's a word you don't hear enough any more.

Nor do you see enough of it, at least according to the comedy producer John Lloyd. This week the man behind Blackadder, Spitting Image and QI attacked the BBC for reducing its comedy fare to a "bland vichyssoise", its cheek checked and claws blunted by focus groups and political correctness in the wake of Sachsgate. "Sauciness is no longer allowed before 9pm anywhere on the BBC", writes Lloyd in the Radio Times. (Has he never heard the lunchtime repeats of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue?) "Heaven knows what they would have done to The Two Ronnies." While Lloyd's idea of what's funny – all ooer-missus and fork handles – seems somewhat stuck in the Seventies, if even the relentlessly middle-of-the-road Miranda has occasioned top-level talks over a gag involving a phallic lollipop, perhaps he has point. Has the BBC lost its GSOH?

Granted, Lloyd has an axe to grind, now that QI has been relegated from BBC1 to BBC2. And I don't really accept his description of that show as "uncompromising, eclectic, slightly saucy"; it's always seemed unbearably smug to me. But his comments make me wonder if there isn't too much attention paid to notions of offence when it comes to comedy. Just because something is inoffensive, doesn't make it unfunny (see Gavin & Stacey). And vice versa, edgy does not automatically equal funny (see Frankie Boyle). That mindset only gives rise to a particularly trying type of comedian out to shock for shock's sake. Perhaps comedy supremos should spend less time pontificating on what audiences find offensive, and more time simply writing jokes. We're all grown up enough to make up our own minds over whether we're appalled, amused, or, more likely on the BBC, just lightly titillated.


It's been a funny week to be a 29-year-old woman. Beyoncé's announcement of her pregnancy – a newsflash which spawned 8,868 tweets per second – has thrown the spotlight on this most awkward of ages. "I always said I'd have a baby at 30," she said in June. "I'm 29 now." And, lo, because Beyoncé is generally a woman who gets what she wants, it came to pass. So when the superstar enters her fourth decade tomorrow, she does so with the warm glow of knowledge that life is turning out exactly as planned. For the rest of us, for whom the stars are not quite so neatly aligned, various publications have offered up helpful lists of 30 things to do before you're 30. These imperatives range from the major – buy a property, have a baby, write a book, make a million, to the trivial – stop listening to Radio 1, buy a designer handbag, give up texting (really? But... why?).

For me, embarking upon the last month of my twenties and largely concerned with my next deadline and where to hold my birthday party, they make alarming reading. Still, I've got 38 days left to make my first million and write a book. Or I might just lose the checklists and get on with, you know, living my life.


Even in the debris-strewn aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the New York authorities have been busily poring over the small print this week. The reason? A federal law ordering that all of the city's 250,900 street signs be changed from upper case to upper-and-lower case, or from the shouty bombast of WALL ST to boring old, grammatically correct Wall St, by 2018. According to transport administrators, things in capitals are harder to read and therefore cause more accidents.

In fact, having realised that adding millions of dollars of sign-writing to billions of dollars of hurricane damage might be a bit much, they've softened the ruling a little so that from now on, any worn-out signs must be replaced with the new, typographically acceptable, versions.

Let's hope that some out-of-work actors take it upon themselves to begin a round-the-clock tending vigil of the BROADWAY sign immediately. Starring on Broadway simply doesn't have the same ring.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Abortions based solely on gender are illegal in Britain  

Abortion is safe, and it should be as available as easily as contraception

Ann Furedi
Photo issued by Flinders University of an artist's impression of a Microbrachius dicki mating scene  

One look at us Scots is enough to show how it was our fishy ancestors who invented sex

Donald MacInnes
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album