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Are You Having a Laugh? Comedy and Christianity

Wed Mar 27, 11.05pm-12.15am, BBC1

Ann Widdecombe has been leading the Christian counterattack for years now – whatever your views on her politics and social attitudes, she’s rarely dull. But is she the right person to address the vexed subject of comedy and Christianity? Well, as it happens, she’s often quite funny, if not necessarily intentionally. For example, the reaction shots of her watching everything from ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ to ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’ will raise a few sniggers.

Ann’s indignation is easy to understand but hard to agree with. Sure, Christianity is much-mocked and plenty of the satire is both gratuitous and lazy. But what Widdy fails to accept is that, as Steve Punt puts it, ‘The comedy itself is a reply.’ For years, Christianity set the British agenda. Much of the humour is simply an acknowledgement of how much has changed. Oh, and she fails to mention ‘Father Ted’, an unforgiveable ommission from the point of view of both entertainment and analysis.