Main content

I'm Only Joking

Ed Byrne traces the history of offensive comedy while exploring the idea of censorship with a little help from some of the leading figures in comedy.

Comedian Ed Byrne investigates the archive for offensive comedy while exploring the idea of censorship and who should control it.

Jokes have the ability to divide an audience like nothing else. What one person finds funny, another can find grossly offensive – but should personal taste set the boundaries of what can and can’t be said?

Ed follows this idea from the "filthy", innuendo-laden music hall comedians who were banned by the BBC in the 1930s and 40s to the YouTube comedians of today. He asks whether, if censorship is necessary, who takes the role of moral arbiter? Did Mary Whitehouse have the right to get Monty Python's Life of Brian banned in cities across the UK? Did the UK government have the right to ban Lenny Bruce from the country? Should the media have brought nationwide attention to Chris Morris' Brass Eye? And is there a need to reappraise a comedian's career because of their trangressive behaviour?

Ed talks to leading figures in the world of comedy including Roger Law, Jane Bussmann, Graham Linehan, Doug Stanhope, Gina Yashere, Tiff Stevenson, Terry Gilliam and Glenn Wool. There's archive too on shows like Brass Eye, The Establishment, Beyond the Fringe, Benny Hill, Monty Python and many more.

Produced by Richard Power

A 7digital production for BBC Radio 4

Available now

57 minutes

Last on

Sat 9 Mar 2019 20:00

Broadcast

Seriously...

Seriously...

Discover more seriously interesting radio documentaries.