‘Protect us from zealots’

The ‘Brits At Their Best’ blog, whose link I’ve just added to my blogroll, laments the death of Jimmy Perry, linking to a Telegraph piece on Perry and his contribution.

For those who don’t know Perry’s name, I’ll assume you are not fans of classic British sitcoms. Jimmy Perry was a co-creator and writer of some of the best and most fondly-remembered sitcoms from the 60s through the 80s. Dad’s Army was probably the best-known, especially in the United States. Of that series, the writer of the Telegraph article says:

They wouldn’t get away with it today. No black faces, nor any character remotely ethnic other than John Laurie’s tetchy Scotsman. Women only in subsidiary roles. And certainly no suggestion of sexual ambiguity beyond a wet clergyman. The BBC’s modern cultural commissars wouldn’t give the pilot script a second glance. White. Middle class. Home Counties. Show him the door, Doris.”

They also wouldn’t get away with It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum, another Jimmy Perry series. Although it did have ethnic characters, being set in India and Burma during WWII, it also did not follow today’s politically correct dictates. According to a Daily Express article on the BBC’s banning the show from future viewing,

A TV source said: “The word has gone out the series of It Ain’t Half Hot Mum will never be shown in the future on the channel. The censors feel the undertone of racism and catty remarks about different races and religions has no place on BBC channels. Under the modern [BBC] Trust guidelines it is clear the show doesn’t meet the guidelines given to output controllers and channel heads for presentation of Indian culture.

[…]“When the series was aired in the Seventies it was a different time, and the notions and sympathies of modern cultural Britain were a long way away.”

The ‘notions and sympathies of modern cultural Britain’ demand that certain groups, and certain groups only, be exempted from anything that oversensitive groups might see as ‘insensitive’ or in any way critical.

As the Daily Telegraph article linked at the top mentions, much of the humor on Dad’s Army,  unlike today’s crude and insulting ‘comedy’, displayed the characteristic English understatement, and the notion of fair-mindedness. Those are admirable traits, in a more sane world, but it’s tempting to say that those very virtues are being turned against the British, or more exactly, the English in the present dark times. Being fair-minded to the point of being self-effacing is leaving the country open to exploitation and abuse by the aforesaid ‘victim’ classes, who never cease to press their advantage.

The article says that the underlying message of Dad’s Army, as it poked gentle fun at the Walmington-on-Sea folk, was ‘Protect us from zealots!‘ That’s a prayer that we on this side of the Atlantic should also be praying. Although perhaps zealotry must be met with equal zealotry on our side, lest our desire to be ‘fair-minded’ be used against us to our destruction.

[H/T to commenter AlmostMissouri for the Brits at their Best link.]

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