Sunday 25 August 2019

Ricky Gervais: I wish the BBC was braver

The comedian said he wishes the broadcaster did not ‘bow to pressure’.

Ricky Gervais (Ian West/PA)
Ricky Gervais (Ian West/PA)

By Laura Harding, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Ricky Gervais has said he wishes the BBC was “braver” and accused the corporation of giving in to pressure from the media.

The comedian, who has come under fire for some of his jokes, added that he can justify all of his material.

He told British GQ: “I’m still a fan of the BBC and I like the principle of it.

“I wish it was braver. I wish it wouldn’t bow down to pressure from media or from one complaint.

“That has got worse and the days are gone when people say ‘We’re leaving it as it is.’

“Commissioning editors are scared of being fired.”

Gervais added: “My conscience doesn’t take a day off. I can justify every joke I’ve ever done.

“As I’ve often said, I think there’s a difference between not caring about offending and being willing to explain why you don’t think people should be offended.

“I want to be able to justify every joke and I think it comes by making sure that the target is fair. I think most offence comes when people mistake the subject of a joke with the actual target.”

He continued: “The problem is I try to make my jokes bulletproof for now, but the real problem is we’ve got to start making them bulletproof for 10 years’ time, because we’ve seen John Wayne getting cancelled 40 years after his death for something he said 48 years ago, when, you know, he wasn’t ‘woke’ enough.

“When I see that I want to go ‘What can we do about it?  He’s dead. Why are you doing this?’ Well, you’re virtue signalling.”

Gervais said he thought this particularly applied to Kevin Hart, who stepped down from hosting the 2019 Oscars following a controversy over homophobic tweets.

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Kevin Hart (Ian West/PA)

He added: “Look at Kevin Hart. A 10-year-old tweet. Shitty tweet. Shitty, immature, homophobic tweet.

“But from 10 years ago, for which he apologised at the time and now he’s got to apologise again.

“No, you can’t sulk (about being caught), but the point is he said ‘I can’t keep apologising for it.’

“And he’s right, because if there’s no value in apologising and changing, why should he change at all? He might as well do the tweets again; you know what I mean?

“At some point we’ve got to say ‘Well, he’s not like that anymore.’ So many comedians have done a good joke that’s been misunderstood.  But why apologise? You’re apologising that some people didn’t like it.

“There’s nothing you can do that some people won’t like. I was annoyed that they apologised. It’s crazy to try to please everyone. It’s impossible.”

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(British GQ)

Ricky Gervais is on one of the covers of British GQ magazine’s June edition.

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