“Is that our job rather than other peoples’?”

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Northern Irish are almost devoid of humour, especially when we are the butt of other people’s jokes. It’s as though we are always straining to see echos of Punch’s simianised caricatures of the 19th Century in every new poke at our sensibilities. Beano picks up the news that Ofcom is investigating Catherine Tate Show because it portrayed a Northern Irish family as terrorists in its Christmas edition (added above).

“The scene saw the family opening their Christmas presents, which included a balaclava, knuckleduster and an apron which showed a balaclava-wearing terrorist alongside the words “Remember Everything, Forgive Nothing”.

Beano’s right in at least one respect. It wasn’t that funny, though who can argue that the last part has absolutely no resonance in generality with people here?

But he’s also makes a salient point in another regard: “Northern Ireland needs to improve its image, certainly, but isn’t that our job rather than other people’s?”

  • Martin

    I’m English and I found the sketch (in fact the whole show) offensive and embarrasing. Most of us (including myself) are guilty of using national stereotypes as a source of humour once in a while, and sometimes it’s even funny, but this was just lazy writing playing on the worst prejudices of the rest of the UK about NI and verging on racism. Disgraceful.

  • lámh dearg

    I saw it and found it just badly written, predictable and not funny. Not worth being offended by

  • lafcadio

    Ofcom should investigate the Catherine Tate show in general, on grounds of offensive unfunniness.

    can someone explain to me the mentality of someone who will tune in each week to see the same ‘joke’ just in a different setting?

  • Dec

    Plus it was about 30 years past its comedy sell-by date. Whilst Beano is right in that the Hole in the Wall gang, amongst others, made a career out of the same, equally tired gag but the crucial difference is that like their targets, they (and their audience) are from here. That’s not to say that the joke is only funny if we’re telling it but that it falls in neatly with BBC NI’s ‘light entertainment’ policy of relentlessly churning out variations of a James Young joke ad infinitum. Surely Tate, as an English comic and with a mainly English audience, should have chosen a more relevant target – Muslim family from Yorkshire, anyone? Yeah, right.

  • Cliché Peddlar

    Am I Bovvered?

  • RepublicanStones

    it was worse than ‘Give my head Peace’ and that takes some doing !

  • Dr Strangelove

    How lazy and ill informed is this… is it by any chance the same script writers who portrayed the Irish family in Eastenders a few years back as raving alcoholics ?

    You are right Dec… the shows writers, producers did not have the balls to make fun of some more relevant/recent targets such as wannabe English Muslim terrorists or London based black families giving their sons knives for Christmas.

  • manichaeism

    I thought it was funny!

  • Apologies to all ye on the offended bus, but I found it funny:0)

  • willowfield

    This NI terrorist family was on the show before the Christmas edition.

    A bit out-of-date, but a valid satire in some respects. My objection would be to the suggestion that such terrorist families are representative of NI.

    If the same sketch had featured an Arab family, there is absolutely no way it would have been broadcast, so this is also an example of double standards.

  • Cromwell

    “Remember everything forgive nothing” on the apron just about says it all for certain sections of society here.

  • Jo

    Part of the humour in this extended representation of the family is that they have a gay son.

    However faux-barbaric they may appear in other regards, the tolerance which the family (and the broader fictional community in the sketches) shows towards homosexuality would put a very significant number of people here to shame.

    One crucial difference between CT and the Hole in the Wall Gang is that their sole gag: “We’re clever and you’re not” – is absent.

  • eranu

    “can someone explain to me the mentality of someone who will tune in each week to see the same ‘joke’ just in a different setting?”

    there seems to be very little comedy these days that is actually funny. shows like little britain, and by the sounds of it her show, just rely on crudeness and vulgarity. things that people class as rude. im no prude but trying to think of something to shock people into ‘laughing’ simply isnt funny. its pathetic to call this comedy.
    thank goodness for reruns of only fools and horses and blackadder.

  • lafcadio

    her show doesn’t even have crudeness going for it, from what i’ve seen. it’s a series of laboured sketches, and the ‘comedy’ seems to be expected to arise from the appearance in due course of a catchphrase, which all the viewers are already familiar with!

    i just can’t get my head around it! no wit, nothing unexpected, just a bit of gurning and a catchphrase..

  • ulsterfan

    Saw the programme and laughed. It must have been funny.

  • URQUHART

    I thought it was pretty funny.

    Although when did they change the gay son? It used to be a fella from Newry.

  • joeCanuck

    Sorry, to some of you.
    I laughed my head off.

  • cynic

    {to be read in a Belfast accent (unless t6hats racist too}

    That Catherine Tate show, it was just shacking, truely shacking.

    Just imagine, Northern Irish people with guns and balaclavas and knuckledusters and an apron with a terrorist on it. And then somebody here mentions Irish people drinking on Eastenders. Soooooo unbeliveable. And then a gay Irishman ….well I mean!

    I have never never ever seen anathing like this in my life. Totally redicerlous

  • pjb

    Why did the writers feel it necessary to emphasise that the family came from one particular side of the community divide? The mother refers to a family friend called Maureen O’Connor and the granny is wearing a clearly visible crucifix. These nods are subtle enough not to be comparable to grotesques like Uncle Andy, while still leaving the viewer in no doubt that NI Catholic = republican = terrorist.

    It’s sectarian, it’s racist (against NI nationalists, rather than NI as a whole) and it’s just not funny.

  • joeCanuck

    Get real; it’s black comedy. Jeez.

  • Joe

    Saw a clip recently of a Dara Ó Briain stand-up in England. He starts by saying that when he told some of his friends in Ireland that he was going over to England to do some stand up gigs, they were horrified. “You’re not going over there?”, they said, “that place is full of terrorists.”
    It got a laugh from me and the audience.

  • jaffa

    “Why did the writers feel it necessary to emphasise that the family came from one particular side of the community divide?”

    1) Because everyone knows that the IRA/INLA are/were right-on and progressive terrorists whilst prods are all reactionary fascists so the joke wouldn’t work otherwise.

    2) Because Catherine Tate’s an Irish descended Catholic Londoner

    It’s sectarian, it’s racist (against NI nationalists, rather than NI as a whole)

    Sad that Irish Nationalists reject their diaspora so quickly.

    and it’s just not funny.

    true, but your reaction is.

  • perci

    Ms Tate is a comic genius, after coogan, and the fast show; she sends up londoners, northerners, southerners, southern irish, northern irish, old people, young people; everyone gets it; so those who whinge here are talking out of their arses.

    Its left to the wise-owl jo to point out that the sketch is to do with attitudes to homosexuality contrasted with the “hard-man” image of the crowbar brigade which would not normally be thought of as gay icons.

    She’s also making the point that yous are a shower of shite who walk around with your balaclavas and knuckle-dusters, and are not willing to change your image, or forget or forgive.

    They murdered young paul quinn, that is the disgrace not catherine tate’s sharp wit.

    Look in the mirror folks!

  • McGrath

    Forget the sketch, the uptight comments on this thread so far have been hilarious.

  • pfhl

    People getting annoyed by a very poor program. Why even watch it? This girl should be shot she is so unfunny. Who gave her a show? she is awful. I didn’t watch it chreistmas day as i would rather be tearing my nails out one by one than watch that totally unfunny asshole.

  • brendan,belfast

    my only problem with the entire Catherine Tate show its that its shit. (or shoudl that be shite?)

  • perci

    The Catherine Tate Show is an award-winning British television sketch comedy written by Catherine Tate who stars in all of the show’s sketches, which feature a wide range of characters. The Catherine Tate Show airs on BBC Two and is shown worldwide through the BBC. Collectively, the show has been nominated for six BAFTA Awards, two British Comedy Awards and an Emmy Award, and it has won two Royal Television Society Awards, two British Comedy Awards and a National Television Award since its debut in 2004.

  • Crow

    I think her portrayal of the Irish nurse character is far more offensive and in line with the traditional ‘thick Paddy’ stereotype that seemed to go away in the late seventies. That said, I Tate is talented and I do find the show amusing overall.

  • Turgon

    I watched it and it was fairly funny. By far her best sketches in my opinion are the ginger ones (and I am strawberry blond).

  • Bemused

    Haven’t watched this particular sketch (can’t be arsed) but doubt that I’d find it offensive. That said, I agree with most of the posters on here – Tate is astoundingly, transparently talentless and unfunny. She’s in the same vein as Lenny Henry, Jasper Carrott and Dawn French and is a pretty clear inspiration for Ricky Gervais’s ‘When the Whistle Blows’ on Extras. Her show is probably acceptable comedic amusement for pensioners and the under-twelves but otherwise she’s as funny as cancer of the cock.

  • heck

    RepublicanStones what’s wrong with ‘Give my head Peace’. I fall of my chair watching copies of the show.

    GIVE MY HEAD PEACE

  • joeCanuck

    Sorry to hear about your medical problem, Bemused.

  • It was like a lot of her gags – v. funny and observational the first time but quicky done-to-death by repetition. But with one exception: The aggressive tolerance of the gay son was a genuinely original, insightful and funny gag (for the first few times). The balaclava / knuckleduster / apron riff was hackneyed, unoriginal, and not – in itself – an observation that I would (personally) recognise.

    I know there are families in Norn Irn (like anywhere else) that cleave to particular regional varieties of casual violence. But are the families concerned likely to be the same ones as Gay Sons’?

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘whilst prods are all reactionary fascists’- jaffa

    reactionary???, afraid not old boy, far from it.

  • Comrade Stalin

    cynic,

    Totally redicerlous

    No, no, it’s “ridickless” (no double entendres intended). My other favourite Belfast phrase is “with the result is”. How often do you hear that ?

    Catherine Tate isn’t that funny, but the sketch raised a smile, and I didn’t find it remotely offensive. The people who complained about this seriously need to get themselves a life.

  • colm

    Like Little Britain, Catherine Tate has created some good comic characters and scenarios but has done them over and over to death. We know the punchlines and exactly what will happen in each sketch with the same characters. It’s silly to pick her up because she has stereotyped a Northern nationalist family – because all her characters and scenes are comic stereotypes.

  • bubbles de veer

    Champagne for everyone!

  • colm

    get your dressing gown back on bubbles , this is a respectable site !

  • Jo

    Catherine Tate isn’t that funny, but the sketch raised a smile, and I didn’t find it remotely offensive. The people who complained about this seriously need to get themselves a life.

    Not for the first or last time, Comrade, you sum things up here.

    Colm

    Get back to licking ass. You’re a shameful ignorant facade on a fascist violent blog. The continuation of your acceptance on another blog escapes your limited comprehension.

  • willowfield

    If the same sketch had featured an Arab family, there is absolutely no way it would have been broadcast, so this is also an example of double standards.

    (Anyone know why someone has complained about the Christmas show when the same sketch has been featured in other shows, presumably without complaint?)

  • jaffa

    ‘whilst prods are all reactionary fascists’- jaffa
    reactionary???, afraid not old boy, far from it.

    RepublicanStones

    Eh?

    Are you confusing retaliatory with reactionary?

    Does this help?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactionary
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Republicanism
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomenclature

  • jaffa

    whilst prods are all reactionary fascists’- jaffa
    reactionary???, afraid not old boy, far from it.

    RepublicanStones

    or perhaps you wish Prods were more reactionary and you’re dismayed by our enlightened egalitarianism?

    In which case I wouldn’t worry yourself too much.

  • Rory

    I have a complaint to make. I didn’t find any of the items on this thread in the least bit funny, nor was I offended in the slightest by any of the posts. What the hell’s the point of paying good broadband fees every month if I switch on to Slugger and don’t either find myself deeply offended or at least get a belly-laugh?

    I demand an apology and a refund (and anything else that’s up for grabs).

  • Slartibuckfast

    I watched that clip and it did raise a couple of laughs but more at the thought that it could actually annoy anyone. Tate is a bit of a spastic alright though.

    What is the point of doing humour like that if it doesn’t annoy the easily annoyed? If you are annoyed by stuff like that you fully well deserve to be.

  • PaddyReilly

    Catherine Tate is hilarious in my books, and I usually make a point of laughing at no-one’s jokes but my own. Her accent in this sketch is not as good as that in the last NI one.

    I think though, judging from her red hair and convent education, that she is of Irish descent, and I strongly suspect that the Irish characters she portrays are actually real persons: her own relations.

    Most English comedians do not attempt Northern Irish characters, and when they do, the accent is usually utterly Southern.

    Perhaps though she is English on another side of the family: the Gran she portrays is also very authentic.

    Whatever the case, it is typical of the bickering mentality of this area that everyone rejects a portrait which is probably drawn straight from life.

    Lauren, her most famous character, is based on schoolchildren overheard in a bus.

    The gay man plot though, seems to be plagiarised from Dafydd of Llanddewibrefi in Little Britain. I wasn’t certain whether it was a different actor from the last such sketch, or he had actually grown up in the meantime. It can, I suppose, be socially inconvenient to play a gay character when you are not in fact gay. Maybe your man from Newry didn’t want to be typecast.

  • Rory

    “It would I suppose, be socially inconvenient to play a gay character when you are not in fact gay.”

    More than that, Paddy. In Britain it is, I believe, actually illegal for an actor not to be gay.

  • topdeckomnibus

    Good morning Martin !

    Do you realise that out of every six million TV viewers seventy poor whinging twats are incapable of switching channels to a programme more to their taste.

    I will be doing a sponsored self flagellation to raise funds to compensate their poor tortured souls.

    What can I put yer down for Martin … 50 pence a stroke ?

    Visit www dot educated into servitude anal bastards taking themselves too seriously forward slash oxygen thieves who complain to ofcom

  • I find that NI indeed has an intense sense of humor, however it is more bitting and cynical rather than histerical. I saw the Catherine Tate Christmas special and indeed remarked that they would be getting plenty of complaints about that terrorist Christmas sketch. It was in very bad taste and despite comedic license, perhaps the producers should have considered the situation in another sense: Would they do a similar sketch based on a Islamic gift giving occasion, or have an Black family exchanging shanks and guns.

  • RepublicanStones

    or perhaps you wish Prods were more reactionary and you’re dismayed by our enlightened egalitarianism? – Jaffa

    i wish nothing of the sort, i merely take comfort in the knowledge that history has shown unionists/loyalists to be anything but !

  • circles

    ach c’mon – the bit “its a penis but you can eat it” is very good. The rest was all just the build up to that line and everything after that was just winding things up for the next sketch.
    If this offends you tho God love ya.

  • The Dubliner

    According to the ‘superiority theory’ of humour espoused by Plato and Aristotle, it is the nature of humour to cause offence since it depends on feeling superior to others – who, naturally, will feel offended by being considered inferior. Since the mass neurosis known as Political Correctness is opposed to anything that causes offence to others, it is opposed to humour by default. So there you have it, PC types really are dour, humourless spoilsports.

  • Bernard Manning must have been from the school of philosophy as those two Greek geezers, this from his self-penned obituary:

    I don’t think the Commission for Racial Equality will be holding a wake for me, either. Nor will the Lesbian and Gay Rights lot or the feminists. They were always banging on about how I was sexist or anti-gay.

    In their obsession with turning comedy into a branch of Left-wing politics, they forgot that the only point of jokes is to make people laugh.

  • Sledge

    Surely Tate, as an English comic and with a mainly English audience, should have chosen a more relevant target – Muslim family from Yorkshire, anyone? Yeah, right.

    No, she’s a UK comic with a UK audience watching her on national UK television. That’s the context. NI characters should be proportionately represented on national television shows. It would be wrong if they weren’t. Same with proportion of newsreaders, presenters etc.

  • TAFKABO

    The only unfunny thing about her sketch was that there is more than a grain of truth to the idea that there exist some families in Ireland who embrace violence as a form of identity.
    Were those characters really so far fetched as to be non existant?

    I need only remind you all of the jubilation displayed at the release of one of the Omagh bombers, by his family members who know only too well his level of involvement in violence.

    If her skecth has pricked the sensibilities of some, maybe we’ll be the better for it.

  • colm

    Jo

    Please stick to the topic rather that trying to dictate who can or cannot comment on this site.

  • Steveo

    I thought is was very funny, along with the other NI sketches the show has been doing. Seriously, nobody holds these stereotypes of NI folk these days – as others have said, they’re about 30 years out of date, which makes it even funnier. Everyone on the show gets mocked. I’m surprised by the reaction here – I thought NI folk loved dark humour!