BBC accused of making ‘woke cuts’ of classic comedies

Jokes considered racially or politically insensitive have been removed

Published

An anonymous radio listener has suggested BBC have been editing classic comedies to remove jokes they consider racially or politically insensitive.

Repeats of classics such as Dad’s Army and Steptoe and Son have reportedly had jokes – and sometimes full sketches – removed by the broadcaster.

The anonymous Radio 4 Extra listener has documented the changes, which they described as “woke cuts”, being made over several years to remove content which could now be seen as racist, politically incorrect or misogynistic.

A library picture of the cast of Dad's Army. (L-R) Clive Dunn, James Beck, John Le Mesurier, Arthur Lowe, John Laurie, Ian Lavender and Arnold Ridley.
A library picture of the cast of Dad's Army. (L-R) Clive Dunn, James Beck, John Le Mesurier, Arthur Lowe, John Laurie, Ian Lavender and Arnold Ridley.

References to disgraced former BBC stars Rolf Harris and Jimmy Savile were removed, as well as the n-word from a Ronnie Barker.

A spokesman for the BBC confirmed to The Times that: “We edit some episodes so they're suitable for broadcast today, including removing racially offensive language and stereotypes from decades ago, as the vast majority of our audience would expect.”

Last year a listener complained about edits being made by the BBC, saying audiences should “make up their own minds about what might be offensive.”

Discussing the story on GB News, Stephen Dixon and Anne Diamond debate whether the decision for the broadcaster to make the edits was the right call.

"I don't know if I agree with this," Stephen said, asking "If you listen to it within the context which of when it was set does it matter?"

Anne replied: "It does.

"Why don't the BBC just make new programmes instead of editing the old ones?

"If I were a writer I'd be saying they should be employing new writers to write new stuff not to find ways of genetically modifying the old stuff."

Last month, Dame Maureen Lipman said cancel culture was putting society on the “cusp of wiping out comedy.”

Steptoe and Son - Harry H Corbett (left) as Harold and Wilfrid Brambell as Albert
Steptoe and Son - Harry H Corbett (left) as Harold and Wilfrid Brambell as Albert

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Dame Maureen said: “I think it’s a revolution, I think it’s in the balance whether we’re ever going to be funny again.

“It’s a bit like laughter in church, something has to be forbidden to make you really laugh, to make you belly laugh – it’s when you shouldn’t be laughing and so, therefore, all the things that are being cancelled out are, I’m afraid, the things that have always made people laugh.

“This cancel culture, this punishment, it’s everywhere, you know, an eye for an eye – you said that therefore you must never work again.

“We’re on the cusp of wiping out comedy.”