Thousands complain about Comic Relief's 'Archbishop Rowan'
From Brother Ivo:
The BBC has received over two thousand complaints following its Red Nose Day sketch featuring Rowan Atkinson mocking the new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby as an unbelieving trendy fool.
It was apparently written by Richard Curtis, which will disappoint His Grace who thinks well of him. Mr Curtis has a fair history, with his Vicar of Dibley, of presenting observational humour within an Anglican setting which nicely balanced our oddities with our virtues. We never object to that, for recognisable resemblance, as he ought to know only too well, is a key to successful satire. The better one likes, understands and respects a subject, the better the jokes. But on Red Nose Day, the humour ran flat with a trace of nastiness about it.
There have been many prior examples of good comedy arising out of an ecclesiastical setting for, truly, ‘all human life is there’.
There was the naivety of Derek Nimmo’s All Gas and Gaiters, the kindliness of Dermot Morgan’s Father Ted, and more recently Tom Hollander’s rather more gritty Rev, each of which has managed to engage, amuse, and tease whilst always respecting the real commitment and faith of those who give their lives to preaching the gospel, however imperfectly.
Rowan Atkinson’s latest offering was a parody of itself. It was dreadfully predictable and derivative, and that ought to be the basis for complaint in itself.
He served up the familiar old schtick of the trendy vicar circa 1963, and many of that vintage will have instantly recognised the famous sex education sketch of Alan Bennett, with an embarrassed school chaplain haplessly trying to befriend and enlighten the young school boy. The unlikely stooge was a juvenile actor by the name of John Sergeant. It was embarrassing to hear the age-old running gag of the vicar constantly making the same error, only this time with unfunny confusion of other fund-raisers instead of the boy’s name.
Now, the purpose of the evening was to keep folk in a good humour and move them towards generosity. So why throw out a gratuitous insult to the Archbishop and, indeed, to all people of faith?
There are many in this country who are less than convinced that foreign aid works.
There are, indeed, billions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts which might support that view, but do you not imagine that if a ‘comedian’ had thrown in the line ‘Keep on giving – we know it doesn’t work but it will make you feel better’ – that some research assistant would not have warned that it might just be a little counter-productive?
Nobody saw anything wrong with mocking the Archbishop and prayer because that is how most people at the BBC think everyone should think.
Already the BBC is trying to ignore how serious an insult that is: "Comic Relief night features seven hours of live television and is known for pushing at the boundaries of comedy alongside heartfelt appeal films,” said an anonymous BBC spokesperson.
Really? Watch the above video (it has been removed from BBC iPlayer) and ask yourself how much of a boundary has been pushed here. As far as Brother Ivo can see, there is nothing new, innovative or clever in it all.
Apparently actor Hugh Bonneville saw the point, quickly tweeting: ‘Had to go out after Rowan Atkinson’s “shagging” sketch taking the piss out of the CofE. Was there a funny one about Islam later on? #rnd.’
Of course, we all know that the BBC would not dream of ‘pushing boundaries’ with those who might push back. There is a name for such people: they are bullies, and that is how our national broadcaster has cast itself. It suits the narrative but there is an alternative that is more truthful and much more ‘cutting edge’ than anything these liberal ‘comedians’ could ever contrive.
When AIDS decimated Southern Africa, prayers were lifted to heaven, and they were answered in a massive response through those whom our trendy celebrities cannot bear to acknowledge.
The Roman Catholic Church responded with love, compassion, manpower and expertise. It is quite simply the largest deliverer of AIDS healthcare in Southern Africa. There are other creditable responses from the Protestant and Evangelical Churches to a degree that dwarfs the efforts of the Red Nose celebrity dilettantes. They trumpet their successes, yet, in truth, they do not hold a candle to the people of faith when it comes to the magnitude of AIDS relief.
The churches have been greatly assisted by another hate figure of the liberal Left.
PEPFAR is the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief and was established in 2001 as a unilateral effort by the United States to avoid the known bureaucratic, political grandstanding, waste, delays, and corruption associated with that grotesque parody of concerted action, the United Nations.
Its main driving force was the hated George W Bush, who saw that a massive response was needed and found time – whilst also fighting major wars – to commit to help the poor and the afflicted. Since then, billions of dollars have been given and millions of lives saved and transformed through a programme modeled upon the Ugandan ABC programme which had proved to be the most successful in reducing infections.
‘Abstinence, be faithful, use a condom’ (ABC) was adopted simply because it was proven to work.
Inevitably, the ‘Religious Right’ scorned it for its liberal distribution of condoms: Bono teased his friend George W for making the US Government the world’s largest purchaser of condoms. On the other side, the liberal Left objected to abstinence.
Ignoring both, the programme has got on with its work and even received the support of Pope Benedict XVI, who authorised the use of condoms for infection control in and outside of marriage.
How rarely do we hear these inconvenient truths from our celebrity cynics? It simply does not suit the liberal narrative to tell the whole story. Yet prayer really does work.
It was particularly sad to hear Rowan Atkinson presenting a lack of faith in an Archbishop whose life demonstrates anything but. We never see the likes of Mr Atkinson walking away from their cash cow, which is what Archbishop Justin did when he gave up a successful career in the oil industry to work for the Lord.
When you contrast the truth of the man with the fatuous posturing of an overpaid clown, it does not reflect well on either Rowan Atkinson or his BBC apologists.
Prayer took Archbishop Justin to where he was needed, and prayer brought him safely home.
From the outset of his ministry, Pope Francis has called us to pray for him as he leads all people of faith along the paths of gospel Grace. We shall do so, and it is clearly the foundation of all that he does and all that he believes. There is a certain irony in being able to watch Pope Francis washing the feet of the AIDS victim, restoring dignity and giving hope, while the sniggering twerps of Comic Relief congratulate themselves on their annual smugfest.
Brother Ivo wonders how many homeless they invited into the Groucho Club that night.