Board shocked by Channel 4 show that left out British Jews
The Board has written to Channel 4, Ofcom, BBC chairman Michael Grade and the Office of Fair Trading to express its shock over the way British Jewish comics were represented in the recent Channel 4 programme The Comedians\’ Comedian.
The show claimed it was a top 50 of comedians as voted by comedians but British Jews appear to have been excluded with Channel 4 putting in one “token” Jew.
Despite a long tradition of Jewish comedy in Britain starting with court jester Mazel the Mad One in 1530, there was only one British Jew – Peter Sellers in its top 50.
Other Jews such as Matt Lucas and David Baddiel were relegated to sideline roles just commenting on other comedians, while the programme showcased American Jews six times as much as the only British Jew.
“Jewish court jester Mazel the Mad One worked at Hampton Court to the delight of King Henry VIII who recognised Jewish comedy as a valuable part of British society, but we find it odd that for over 400 years Jews have been an integral part of British comedy but have been excluded by this Channel 4 programme,” said Board president Harry Greenberg.
“When myself and fellow Board members saw this programme we were shocked at the complete lack of British Jewish representation. Where was Sacha Baron Cohen? Where was Bernie Winters? Where was Barry Bloomfield? Where was Kid Kohen the Clown?
“We would like to know, why was it only a top 50? This show does not appear to be very objective and that is why we have written to the Office of Fair Trading as well as Ofcom, Michael Grade and Channel 4,” Mr Greenberg added.
In its letter to Channel 4, the Office of Fair Trading, Michael Grade and Ofcom, the Board writes:
“As you may know, British Jews have been an integral part of British comedy since the 16th century. It is well recorded that court jester Mazel the Mad One was much sought after especially for his work at Hampton Court during the reign of Henry VIII. So we cannot understand why there was only one British Jew in your top 50 of The Comedians\’ Comedian.
Your exclusion of British Jews cannot be accepted by the Board and therefore we invite you to produce another version, this time not as biased against British Jews.
After all, one comic not included is someone with whom Channel 4 owes much gratitude to – Sacha Baron Cohen. Why have Steve Coogan, but not Sacha? Both men do characters and Sacha does better characters that atleast have different voices, whereas Coogan\’s characters all sound the same.
The Board\’s cultural division would be prepared to assist you in your research so that you can make a fair and accurate programme and we trust you will take up this offer.
We request to see a full list of who was shortlisted and what criteria you had to determine who should be included.”