Is Dead Ringers on BBC Radio 4 the worst possible way to spend my license fee?

Tom Winnifrith Saturday 8 June 2019


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Whoever is driving the car gets to choose the radio station. Thus, when I was at the wheel, I refused to listen to Radio 2’s utterly gormless Sarah Cox who earns a telephone number salary doing drivetime as part the station’s campaign to show that it does not pay mega salaries only to men. The local radio station in Cannock Chase, I kid you not, was far more interesting.  But as we headed towards Bristol the Mrs switched to Radio 4 for the 6.30 Comedy show…

Before it even started I shouted out “Trump is A Nazi, D-Day, ha, ha ha! Well knock me down with a feather but the first sketch on mock the week was exactly that. Apparently, we were told there are even more Nazis in the White House than there were in Normandy back in 1944.  Whatever. I am sure that Trump’s Jewish son in law, daughter (convert) and grand kids were in stitches over that one.

Radio 4 comedians think that anyone who does not read the Guardian or watch CNN is a Nazi/Fascist/Alt Right monster and describes them as such. You and I might say that rather diminishes the true evil of what actual Nazis did but that is not how the BBC works.

Back to “Dead Ringers”. In half an hour there was one two minute sketch about the Labour Party playing on how the Great Leader Comrade Corbyn will not commit to a firm policy on Brexit and used to shag Dianne Abbott. The other 28 minutes was packed with viscous sketches about Trump, the Brexit Party or the Tories. That is what goes for balance in BBC Radio 4 comedy and boy did the audience of London elitists cackle. That Trump he’d campaign to preserve statues of Hitler. What a great line that was. How the bearded twits from Hackney loved that one.

Even the Mrs, who is a bit of a deluded lefty, struggled to laugh more than once in this half hour of often tasteless virtue signalling tedium. But she would not admit that she had called it badly so we carried on listening.  Trump being a Hitler admirer is, in my view, a bit tasteless given his Jewish relatives and the fact that he was in Europe this week honouring Americans who died on D Day.

But I have no problem with comedy being tasteless. Comedy should be offensive. But it should also be funny and that is the big fail for Dead Ringers. Moreover, when it is funded by the taxpayer, it should also be at least vaguely balanced. Dead Ringers fails massively on that count too and is thus, like the obscene salary of gormless Sarah Cox,  another good argument for the abolition of the license fee. 

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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