We have been slowly catching up with the special Father Ted night that C4 screened on New Year’s Day.
To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the series, C4 dedicated a night to the comedy that included insightful interviews with the two writers – Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews – as well as cast and crew.
There was also re-runs of a couple of favourite episodes, one chosen by viewers and the other chosen by Linehan and Mathews.
Amongst the interesting thoughts and comments was one from Linehan on the early backlash Father Ted suffered, not least from those claiming they wanted to protect Ireland and Irish culture from stereotyping and lazy comedy.
But Linehan makes the point that it was all a storm in a tea-cup and that Ireland simply needed to get used to laughing at itself and not be afraid to make jokes at its own expense. Others said they were immensely proud of the positive impact Father Ted continued to have, whilst cast member Graham Norton said there were plenty of current home-grown productions that he felt acutely embarrassed about and hoped would never be seen by non-Irish viewers.
These points struck a chord. The more I’ve lived outside of the land of my fathers, the more irked I’ve got at the inability of Welsh people to take a joke.
Certainly the success of Gavin and Stacey and the enthusiastic following Rhod Gilbert has amassed with his stand-up act have both helped smooth over the chip that seems to exist, but there are still far too many examples of my fellow countrymen and women being far too precious and unable to laugh at themselves. We still take things far too seriously sometimes.
And just as Norton makes the point about some Irish TV output, so I find myself cringing at some Welsh productions.
That said, my adopted region of the West Midlands isn’t exactly brimming over with high quality homegrown TV – for example, the BBC’s flagship evening news programme Midlands Today often feels like a parody of a parody. Think The Day Today or Broken News, but rehashed in a very amateurish way devoid of very little information and actual news.
In fact I’d go as far as saying that the UK as a whole is no longer very good at doing local media these days, at least not in terms of newspaper and television. Part of the problem appears to be that whenever anyone dares to criticise or suggest ways of improvement, the defences come up and the prospect of reasonable and intelligent debate goes out of the window.
Which brings me back to my beloved Wales and comedy.
The joke will sometimes be on us, so suck it up.
It is often funny, you know it is. So have a laugh.
Go on, you know you want to….go on, go, go on, go on…etc etc etc