No laughing matter

Activists campaign to axe Coogan comedy

Animal rights activists are campaigning to have Steve Coogan's latest comedy pulled from BBC2 before it hits the air.

Anti-vivisectionists are urging supporters to bombard channel controller Jane Root with emails in protest at the forthcoming animated comedy I Am Not An Animal.

Made by Coogan's production house Baby Cow, the show revolves around animals who have escaped a lab where they lived "a pampered life in a luxurious club-class wing."

However, the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection says: "The BUAV is appalled that both Mr Coogan and BBC2 think it appropriate to distort the grim reality of lab animal suffering just for laughs.

"The truth is that animals in laboratories can endure a catalogue of horrendous cruelty."

The charity has circulated Jane Root's email and office address and urged its supporters to demand the show be canned.

BUAV campaigns director Wendy Higgins even likened the subject matter to child abuse.

She said: "To portray the lives of lab animals as anything other than a living hell is not only deeply crass but also irresponsible.

"Using comedy to raise awareness about controversial subjects can be very effective. But a cartoon depicting any form of deliberately inflicted suffering, such as the abuse of children, as benign would be condemned outright.

"Suffering isn't something to joke about and the BUAV has strongly urged Steve and BBC2 to think again."

I Am Not An Animal has been written by Peter Baynham, who is no stranger to controversy, having previously worked on Brass Eye.

Coogan also provides the voices of some of the animals, alongside Simon Pegg, Julia Davis and Kevin Eldon.

The show forms part of BBC2's spring and summer line-up, which starts in May.

Published: 24 Mar 2004

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