Papal like us

Italians buy 'offensive' Pope comedy

Italy is to screen to Vatican-based cartoon sitcom that the BBC cancelled after a protest campaign by Catholics.

Popetown was scrapped by BBC3 after more than 6,000 people complained its portrayal of a pogoing Pope, played by Ruby Wax, and a manipulative cardinal was offensive.

But now Italian channel CanalJimmy, based just a few miles from the Vatican, has bought the 10-part series to air this spring.

The sale will help the BBC recoup some of the money spent producing the animated show, which also feature Little Britain’s Matt Lucas, The Office’s Mackenzie Crook and model Jerry Hall.

It was axed in 2002 after a concerted campaign that the programme “insulted all Catholics and held them up for public hatred, ridicule and contempt."

At the time, BBC3 controller Stuart Murphy said: “I knew when we developed the series that there was risk involved but unfortunately, once we saw the finished series, it became clear that the programme fell on the wrong side of that line."

But CanalJimmy says it is not worried the comedy, which it has renamed Holy Smoke, might offend Italy’s 90 per cent Catholic population.

A spokesman told The Independent on Sunday: "This is a very alternative sort of channel. In fact, we hope there will be a bit of a controversy as it would bring us some attention."

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Published: 30 Jan 2005

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