I wrote a piece yesterday about comedian Alfie Brown being cancelled, which he most definitely was, in textbook fashion. Old videos and Tweets were dug up, venues were threatened, shows were pulled, and his fellow comedians salivated.
That is an actual cancellation. Finding out that the BBC is not renewing your show for a seventh series, however, really doesn’t count. Tom Slater draws this key distinction in the Spectator. Here’s an excerpt:
Has comedian Frankie Boyle become the latest victim of the BBC’s ‘right-wing purge’? Frankie Boyle seems to think so. Following news this week that his BBC Two show, Frankie Boyle’s New World Order, has not been renewed for a seventh series, he took to Twitter, where he implied the cancellation was down to the rightward turn of the corporation: “Ah well, there’s to be no more New World Order on the BBC. Not surprising in the current climate, I suppose.” In a similar vein, U.K. comedy bible Chortle has warned that “the cancellation will also fuel fears that the corporation is avoiding shows that are critical of the Government”.
Now, to anyone who has actually watched the BBC recently, talk of it becoming a kind of Tory Russia Today will come as a surprise, particularly going by its comedy output. We seem lumbered with a generation of BBC comics who confuse lazy Tory bashing with political comedy. But for a few years now metropolitan liberals have at least been pretending to believe that a right-wing coup is afoot, pointing to BBC director-general Tim Davie’s widely briefed but limply fought ‘war on woke’ at the corporation and the cancellation of the Nish Kumar-led Mash Report in 2021.
You would have thought that this notion that the BBC is willing to sacrifice bankable shows and personalities for the sake of pleasing the Tories would have been put to bed by the whole Gary Lineker climbdown. But apparently not. In any case, where these instances of alleged cancel culture in BBC comedy are concerned, it is worth reminding people that TV shows are still routinely ‘cancelled’ for more prosaic reasons – such as that they are dreadful and/or people do not watch them.
Maybe, just maybe, New World Order was canned because its particular brand of woke hectoring just wasn’t going down well with the viewing public. Indeed, the aforementioned Chortle write-up nods to this: “It is also thought that New World Order’s audience has been declining in recent years to the point it was no longer seen as a valuable commission.” Whatever the reason for cancelling the show, the Beeb is also keen to say it isn’t cutting ties with Boyle. “We look forward to seeing what he does next on the BBC,” read its statement.
Worth reading in full.