Writer attacks 'charmless' TV comedy

Arts Correspondent,Arifa Akbar
Sunday 23 October 2011 00:18

The co-creator of the cult TV comedy Father Ted has launched a scathing attack on the "charmless" state of comedy writing on British television, which relies for cheap laughs on swearing and crass content.

Graham Linehan said creative teams should try to be more imaginative. "I always think, just because you are allowed to do something, does not mean you should necessarily do it. If you impose a few restrictions on yourself, it forces you to come up with cleverer ways to get round things." His broadside in The Stage newspaper, ahead of his masterclass in comedy at this month's Edinburgh International Television Festival, attacked the crass treatment of taboo subjects. "There is that kind of TV where your dad has to leave the room every 10 minutes because he is too embarrassed to watch," he said. "I want to avoid that. There is a way to talk about taboo subjects and adult subjects without making people feel like they need a bath. "

He said comedies were trying to emulate Brass Eye, the late-1990s spoof documentary series created by Chris Morris, for which Linehan wrote. "I think the envelope only needs to be pushed when it is restricting you," he said. "At the moment the envelope is like a big circus tent."

He said BBC3, which has produced broad comedies such as Tittybangbang and Touch Me, I'm Karen Taylor, had "polarised and atomised audiences". But Danny Cohen, controller of BBC3, pointed to Gavin and Stacey and Little Britain as proof that "investment in young talent can pay huge mainstream dividends".

In a blog yesterday, Linehan said his comments had been made as "part of a much larger discussion about the writing process".

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