Belfast Telegraph

Fionola Meredith: How could politically-correct BBC give Frankie Boyle's IRA gag the thumbs-up?

Frankie Boyle has caused a stir over a joke on his show about the IRA
Frankie Boyle has caused a stir over a joke on his show about the IRA
Fionola Meredith

By Fionola Meredith

It can hardly be a shock to anyone that Frankie Boyle made a sick, offensive joke in his latest BBC comedy show.

I mean, it's Frankie Boyle - sick, offensive jokes are what the Scottish comedian does, in the same way that we all know what bears do in the woods.

He's already sneered at kids with Down's syndrome, at Katie Price's disabled son Harvey, and made a really repulsive quip concerning Madeleine McCann and Jimmy Savile. So why would we be surprised that he's now having a laugh about the IRA blowing up British Tories?

In his new BBC2 show, Frankie Boyle's New World Order, in which he supposedly tries to make sense of the chaos of Brexit, he pretended to sympathise with Theresa May over her protracted discussions at Chequers with the likes of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.

Cue Frankie: "Where the f*** are the IRA when you need them?"

A few of Boyle's chortling fan-boys - some of whom are apt to turn fairly bitter and nasty when their wee Scottish hero gets criticised for his cruelty - may be too young to remember the bombing of the Conservative Party conference in 1984, in which five people died and 34 were injured.

Or else they did in fact get the reference and just enjoyed the idea of exploded Tories.

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What a laugh, eh?

Anyone who doesn't find it funny must clearly be a humourless, Tory-loving fascist.

Maybe if they - or Boyle - had grown up in a country where people were regularly blown to bits they'd be less inclined to indulge themselves with a cosy, self-congratulatory titter.

But my big question is: why did the impeccably politically-correct BBC decide it was acceptable to broadcast this particular joke?

Would it allow a crack about the Isis-inspired London Bridge attack in 2017?

Or is that kind of terrorism not so side-splittingly funny?

Look, Boyle is going to be Boyle, and what he says at one of his own comedy gigs is entirely up to him.

We live in a free country, thank God, and the price of that is tolerating people's right to spout offensive stuff. If you don't like his particular brand of heartless, wilfully twisted humour, don't pay to go to his shows.

It's different, however, when a joke like this is broadcast by the BBC. This is our publicly-funded national broadcaster, which is supposed to uphold values of respect, integrity and fairness.

Did any of the Tristrams from Oxbridge who gave the thumbs-up to the inclusion of this quip stop to think of the ongoing pain of IRA victims?

Where is the respect or fairness for them?

Boyle was supposed to make a comeback in 2015 on a BBC radio show but, according to the comedian himself, the show was dropped because it included a joke about the IRA assassination of Lord Mountbatten.

Four years later it seems the BBC has decided that it's now OK to make a cheap gag out of the slaughter of innocent people.

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