I used to love Channel 4.
When I was a teenager in the nineties, Friday nights in particular were filled with great show after great show.
Father Ted, Frasier, Kids in the Hall, Beavis and Butthead. It was the home of some really original comedy and was always very forward thinking.
What the hell happened?
I suppose things went downhill somewhere around the time they started giving over most of the summer schedule to Big Brother, a show with a huge nasty streak, which required minimal creative effort. They became lazy, and they ended up in the gutter.
Which explains why nowadays they dedicate most of their time to mocking the disabled.
You may recall a while back that Channel 4 refused to acknowledge the offensive nature of the word 'retard' when it was used in a very dodgy context by the equally dodgy Vinne Jones: http://christinalouisemartin.blogspot.com/2010/05/ofcom-in-common-sense-shocker.html
It took a lot of complaints, and pressure from a national disability charity, to get a begrudging 'sorry'. A 'sorry' which meant absolutely nothing when you consider that at the time, they were developing a show with the working title 'Deal With it Retards'.
This show incidentally went on to become 'Tramadol Nights' starring, another lover of the disabled, Frankie 'isn't Downs Syndrome funny' Boyle.
I didn't watch 'Tramadol Nights' when it broadcast last week, but I did catch the programme after it, 'The Morgana Show'. And what do you know, the disabled were the butt of a (pointless) joke again.
Well actually not so much a 'joke', calling it a 'joke' gives it too much credit, as there was nothing to it apart from, 'look, this character is slow, ha ha ha'. Morgana needs to take a lesson from South Park. Disability can be tackled in comedy, but it requires wit.
Anyway, the character in question was called Gilbert:
And he popped up throughout the show, constantly failing to do things because he's slow.
The kicker this time, is that Channel 4 in addition to mocking the disabled, don't even have the guts to admit they're doing it. Bullies and cowards, wonderful.
My friend, Nicola Clark (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/apr/28/disability-c4-ofcom-complaint) wrote to them to complain and got this response:
Thank you for your email.
Yes, I am aware that there has been a reaction on twitter to the character. We have also had positive reaction to the show in general and the
character specifically. In fact, Gilbert is one of the show's most popular characters. At the recordings for the show, the audience reacted with
great warmth to the character and there were absolutely no complaints at all.
I think it is important to point out that the way you describe Gilbert - a young man with learning disabilities - is not the way the comedian
describes - or Channel 4 sees - the character.
Gilbert is one of Morgana's longest serving characters, she has performed him for many years. In a recent interview with the Radio Times she
explains a bit more about how she came up with the idea for the character, the affection she feels for him and the way she, as the creator of the
character, sees him.
That is not as a character with learning disabilities but as a well meaning and loveable little oddball who gets annoyed when he gets things
Gilbert is an affectionately drawn original character, not a mockery of someone with learning difficulties. The comedy comes from the character's
childlike desire to get everything just right, and always falling short. It is neither Morgana's, nor Channel 4's intention to mock those with
Pardon my French but - bullshit.
Gilbert started life on the TNT Show, in Gilbert's Special Report: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5u_FVAzkycw
The 'special' in Special Report was an allusion to special needs, and Gilbert's fellow reporters both had disabilities. It was obvious!
Oh and just to eliminate any remaining doubts, the description of Gilbert's Special Report here: http://www.comedy.co.uk/guide/tv/tnt_show/ says definitively: Gilbert and his crew (actors in real life) all have disabilities, but that doesn't stop them interviewing celebrities
I'm not sure what disabled people have done to piss Channel 4 off so much. Probably nothing, they're clearly just an easy target.
All of this begs the question; if Channel 4 hold the disabled in such contempt, why are they broadcasting the Special Olympics?
I can only think that they have mistakenly bought the rights thinking it's a comedy show. I wouldn't be surprised if they change the title from 'Special Olympics 2012' to 'Look at the Spastics Trying to Run'.
Channel 4, sort it out. Comedy should kick up, not down.
A recent study showed just how socially excluded disabled people are - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-11139534 - they do not need the likes of Channel 4, Frankie Boyle and Morgana Robinsion adding to the ignorance and bullying they already face.