Nish Kumar: BBC must come clean on Mash Report axe | 'War on woke' line is a 'useful myth' for the right, comic argues © BBC/Endemol Shine

Nish Kumar: BBC must come clean on Mash Report axe

'War on woke' line is a 'useful myth' for the right, comic argues

The BBC must come clean about why it axed The Mash Report, its host Nish Kumar says.

New director general Tim Davie dropped the satirical show earlier this year, despite its popularity with the younger, often online audiences that the Corporation usually seeks to woo.

Right-wing critics of the BBC have celebrated its demise as a scalp in a ‘war on woke’ –  while the left fear it was a move to silence criticism of the government. However, the official line has always been that the show needed to go after four series to ‘make room for new comedy shows’.

But in a new interview today Kumar says the uncertainty over any political motivation for the cancellation needs to be resolved.

‘The concern for me is that it’s a useful myth for Tim Davie to have out there, because it placates the British right. It gives the sharks a bit of blood,’ Kumar tells the Observer Magazine.

‘If the BBC does not say something publicly to make it clear they were not reacting to the political content of the show, it will set a bad precedent. It may well stop people pitching new programme ideas. It is not about any reassurance they may have privately given me since.’

The comic accepted the show had ‘a good innings’ and acknowledged ‘nobody has a God-given right to be on television’, but feared the BBC's refusal to slap down reports of a political agenda were damaging.

He said executives had told him the decision was down to a lack of money. But stories in the Tory-supporting press - which  the BBC never officially denied - cited the move  as a victory for Davie in a ‘war against woke lefties’.

The Sun certainly welcomed the cancellation of the ‘preachy, self-righteous [and] left-wing’ series, while the Spectator said ‘Even among the politically monochrome BBC comedy stable, The Mash Report broke new ground for liberal sanctimony and woke hectoring’.

The BBC has not elaborated on its decision to pull the plug on the show in the wake of Kumar’s call for greater clarity.

At the time of the cancellation a BBC spokesman said: ‘We are very proud of The Mash Report but in order to make room for new comedy shows we sometimes have to make difficult decisions and it won’t be returning.

‘We would like to thank all those involved in four brilliant series and hope to work with Nish Kumar, Rachel Parris and the team in the future.’

Davie is a former deputy chairman of the Hammersmith and Fulham Conservative party in West London, and stood as a councillor in local elections for them.

Published: 16 May 2021

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