Anorak News | ITV Headcases Is Bad Satire, Says Nick Cohen

ITV Headcases Is Bad Satire, Says Nick Cohen

by | 28th, June 2008

HEADCASES, the ITV show, is dire, says Nick Cohen:

Take their attitude to terrorism. Satirists might concentrate on the government’s threat to basic liberties, as many on the Right and Left have done. Alternatively, they might turn on a judiciary whose rulings allow “Londonistan” to survive.

What no one with satirical passion would think of doing is telling tit gags Benny Hill would have rejected as not funny enough. Yet Headcases had the animated Gordon Brown explaining to Jacqui Smith that she must show more cleavage as the terror threat increases. When an attack was imminent, she must sound the alarm by appearing topless before the Commons. Meanwhile Brown, a politician who has taxed and spent on a scale beyond the dreams of the Left of the 1990s, became in ITV’s hands a Victorian Scrooge who watches every penny from his counting house desk. You could almost hear them saying, “he is Scottish and a son of the Manse so —eureka! — we will show him as a skinflint!” Conservative readers will blame the broadcasters’ liberal bias for ITV’s failure to wound or even graze. I’m sure there’s truth in the charge but suspect that a deeper “bias against understanding” was at work.

In The New Elites, his study of modern culture, George Walden dissected Oxbridge-educated media grandees who make a career out of assuming the masses are ignorant. The makers of Headcases proved his point. Before the series began, they unblushingly told the Times that they wouldn’t pick on Jack Straw, Ed Balls, David Davis and Vince Cable because they didn’t think the viewers knew who they were. Even if they were right, and I’m not sure they are, Straw is Labour’s most devious survivor, while any decent satirist would have thanked the gods for giving him the bombastic, bullying Balls to play with. If their audience didn’t know who they were, they would make them know by the force of their anger and comic invention.


Posted: 28th, June 2008 | In: TV & Radio Comment | TrackBack | Permalink