Saturday, 26 August 2006

Yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald contains a short piece from the Australian Associated Press about some trouble with Rolf Harris. It seems as though the indefatigable troubadour-cum-dauber has produced some material that might offend Muslims.

Rolf Harris has been unwittingly entangled in a BBC scandal over a program that has been pulled after making taboo jokes. The BBC Radio Scotland program, Franz Kafka Big Band, included a sketch in which the Australian entertainer draws cartoons of the prophet Muhammad and Buddha.

Strange! A radio show featuring a visual artist...

There must be something else to this kerfuffle. So I googled the Web site. It has a press release which contains more detail, but no mention of how an artist painting pictures on radio could shock anyone. Because, of course (in case it hasn't dawned yet), you can't SEE anything on radio. The release is headed:

By Lisette Johnston, Scottish Press Association

And in the body of the piece it provides some detail:

The show has a segment called Rolf's Blasphemous Cartoon Time portraying Rolf Harris drawing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed and Buddha. Another sketch has a voice-over for a famine appeal while the person is eating. There is also sexual content.The group's second series was billed as "sure to surprise even the most unshockable" by the BBC when it was commissioned. But Nick Low, the executive producer for this series, defended the work of the group, who have been in talks with the BBC over a television deal. He said: "We are disappointed because we have been working on this for eight months and now I don't know if it will ever see the light of day."The Franz Kafka Big Band have always been about not compromising what they do. It is very funny and dark and we have delivered to the BBC whatwe thought they were looking for."The BBC have been very supportive, it is just whether we can thrash things out and whether a compromise can be made."I don't think we are talking fine tuning, there are major changes that would need to be done."

The use of quotes is rather confusing, but I think that the quotation is continuous through most of the above paragraph from "We are disappointed...".

The press release on the Web site provides some nice spin:

BBC Radio Scotland’s comedy sketch show ~ The Franz Kafka Big Band ~ will air their second series during the last week in August, 2006. Following on from their successful first series broadcast autumn 2005, which was repeated uncut in a late night schedule, their second series will again break new ground by being broadcast in a prime late night slot, daily, for one week.

This special broadcasting event beginning on Monday the 28th of August 2006 will showcase the cutting edge and hilarious comedy sketch show, The Franz Kafka Big Band. Uncompromising in its 10.00 p.m slot, you’ll either love it, or hate it: you won’t ignore it.

Franz Kafka Big Band publicity photo from their Web site
It seems that they haven't got around to updating this release just yet. But press releases are generally the last thing that people look at on Web sites, anyway. The 'Who and What' section of the main page contains the following:

The Franz Kafka Big Band is a comedy group that makes programmes for BBC Radio.

Recorded entirely in the studio, the shows combine the written sketch with a sophisticated editing and recording process, the surreal and the naturalistic, improvisation and music.

The Big Band have made two series for BBC Radio Scotland, and are currently in development for television.

Written by Colin Edwards & Innes Smith - additional material by the performers; Jenny Ann Marshall, Craig Stobo, Dave Barr & Innes Smith.
Original Music by Colin Broom, CNUT, Bozilla & Mind Sculpture.
Engineered & Sound Design by Kahl Henderson at Savalas Studios.
Produced by Colin Edwards.
Executive Producer is Nick Low.
The Franz Kafka Big Band is a Demus Production.
Website Content & Design by Rob Eijkman & Innes Smith.
Website Managed & Hosted by Bandspace

There is a complete rehash of the press release published on the Web site of The Daily Mail, a U.K. tabloid, which includes a place to leave comments. There are only three comments at the time of writing. I think I'll add my own thoughts about this curious debacle and the conundrum at its heart.

But I can just see Rolf Harris sketching Muhammad using a big, thick paintbrush and a tin of black paint. I'd love to see it, personally.

Doesn't it also strike you as odd the way the AAP story started: "Rolf Harris has been unwittingly entangled in a BBC scandal..."? I mean, he surely knew what he was painting, so how is it that he's 'unwittingly entangled' in the scandal? Surely it would be better to say 'embarrasingly entangled'? I think that's more accurate.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How about a bit of Rolf?