ITV has axed Tim Minchin from Jonathan Ross’s chat show – in case he upset Christians.
The comic wrote a tongue-in-cheek song comparing Jesus to Woody Allen especially for the show that airs tomorrow night – but at the last minute ITV executives pulled the appearance for fear of causing offence.
Minchin said he knew he had to be ‘gentle’ for a mainstream show going out so close to Christmas and said that the song, which took him about three days to write, was ‘silly, harmless, quite cute and certainly not very contentious’.
Nonetheless: ‘Compliance people and producers and lawyers all checked my lyrics long before the cameras rolled.’
The show was taped on Tuesday last week, with guests including Tom Cruise and the cast of The Inbetweeners. Minchin, who co-wrote the hit West End musical Matilda, said producers were happy with the final cut of the show, which included ‘a nice bit of that cheeky, iconoclastic spirit for which Jonathan is known and widely loved’.
However, Minchin says the show was then sent to ITV’s director of television, Peter Fincham, who demanded the song be cut from the show.
The comic wrote on his blog: ‘He did this because he’s scared of the ranty, shit-stirring, right-wing press, and of the small minority of Brits who believe they have a right to go through life protected from anything that challenges them in any way.’
He added that he wrote a ‘big rant’ about comedy and risk and conservatives but trashed it because ‘it’s hardly the end of the world’. But, he added: ‘I have to admit I’m really fucking disappointed.
‘It’s 2011. The appropriate reaction to people who think Jesus is a supernatural being is mild embarrassment, sighing tolerance and patient education. And anger when they’re being bigots. Oh, and satire. There's always satire.’
ITV said the song was not right for the 'tone' of the show.
A spokeswoman told Chortle: 'It's not unusual for there to be changes to the show in the edit, as we shoot more than goes out, and we felt the tone wasn't quite right for the Christmas show.
‘But we do think Tim’s very talented and would love him to work with him on ITV shows again in the future.’
Here is the song they banned: