Jo Brand and Omid Djalili (of BBC4’s anti-austerity comedy Going Forward) should try watching Addicted to Sheep, which is so politically incorrect I’m surprised it hasn’t got an 18 certificate.
Going Forward (BBC4, Thursdays) is a BBC comedy about the continuing adventures of Kim Wilde, the fat, cynical but lovable nurse character played by former nurse Jo Brand. Now she has quit the NHS and is working in the private sector for a company called Buccaneer 2000 — which is, of course, exactly what a healthcare company would call itself in order to allay potential criticisms that it was backward-looking, heartless and rapacious.
This is one of the series’ big problems. It wants to be naturalistic, almost fly-on-the-wall, observational comedy, with the dog wandering casually in and out, and parents and kids saying just the kind of things we all do in real life. But it just can’t resist sneaking in the sledgehammer in order slyly to bash you over the head with anti-austerity politics so strident they make John McDonnell sound like Ayn Rand.
Poor old people get terrible bed sores. Some old people are so poor they can’t afford to buy postage stamps for the birthday cards of the son who never visits them. Oh and by the way, it’s a racist misconception that all old people from the Indian subcontinent have tight family groups capable of caring for them. You can just imagine the BBC’s commissioning editors whipping themselves into a frenzy of virtuous ecstasy as they came upon each of these incisive observations in the script, probably pinning on a gold star like they do at primary school every time a ‘student’ mentions Mary Seacole.
But what about the rest of us, sitting at home, wanting a bit of entertainment? Do we get any say in this? And isn’t there something ever so slightly puke-inducing at being given moral lectures by comics who — thanks in good part to their cosy, symbiotic relationship with the showbiz NHS that is the BBC — earn in a year a good three or four times what even the Prime Minister does? Couldn’t they just lay off the politics, once in a while, and try working on the comedy?
Tell you what you should watch, though, if you haven’t already: Addicted to Sheep (on BBC4 catch-up). It’s a documentary about sheep farming in the north Pennines, briefly shown in cinemas last year, and is so politically incorrect I’m surprised it wasn’t classified as right-wing hardcore porn and slapped with an 18 certificate.