Saturday, 9 June 2018

Dead and Buried

Last night's eighteenth series of Dead Ringers began with, among other things, a sketch about Ed Miliband's bacon sandwich. It has now been running for a good dozen years more than it ever should have done. 

It was very fresh when it started, mostly a poking of fun at Radio Four itself. But the performers do not now sound like the people whom they are supposed to be impersonating. During their brief run on television, they did not look like them, either. Nor does Tracey Ullman either look or sound like her supposed targets.

There is a myth that Britain has a thriving satirical scene. We do not. We have licensed satire, and we always have had. People rave about Spitting Image, but it made jokes about Margaret Thatcher's resemblance to man rather than about her policies, and it treated the Royal Family as if they were important in themselves.

In a free country, satirists mock the powerful. But in Britain, court jesters mock the dissidents. For as near as hardly matters to 60 years now, we have had some public school Sixth Former from the late 1950s telling us all what to think. It never was very funny, and it is not remotely so today.

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