I have been deliberately trying to avoid the royal wedding circus and have had a self-imposed ban on most visual media. I have been listening to ABC local radio where the coverage has been minimal. This is how I found out that one of Australia’s controversial comedy teams, The Chaser
, were planning a satirical coverage of the royal wedding. Finally, I thought something that will do the circus justice.
For those of you who don’t know The Chaser, their website says they are a “satirical media empire which rivals Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation in all fields except power, influence, popularity and profitability.”
Now that the Royals have banned The Chaser from taking a satirical look at the royal wedding their statement might be closer to the mark than they thought!
The Chaser are both popular and controversial in Australia. They have won two Australian Film Industry awards for their TV program The Chaser’s War on Everything
but have also been in and out of the courts and in 2009 their program was axed over a ‘poor taste’ skit about the Make-a-Wish Foundation, that they called 'Make a Realistic Wish Foundation.'
They are probably best known for their 2007 APEC skit where Chas Licciardello dressed as Osama bin Laden and the team infiltrated several layers of security at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation annual meeting before being stopped, detained by security and ultimately charged.
In a media release
the ABC states:
ABC TV has reluctantly cancelled its widely promoted program The Chaser’s Royal Wedding Commentary because of new restrictions, imposed over Easter, on its planned ABC2 live coverage of the event.
ABC TV had initially been informed by the BBC and subsequently by Associated Press Television News (APTN) that there were no restrictions on the use of the coverage that would prevent The Chaser’s wedding commentary.
However, the new conditions of use issued by APTN over the Easter break state that footage cannot be used “in any drama, comedy, satirical or similar entertainment program or content.”
The APTN advisory imposed the restrictions on the coverage of the wedding ceremony from Westminster Abbey as agreed between Clarence House, the private office of the Prince of Wales and the BBC.
In response the Chaser team have sent a letter to Her Majesty the Queen requesting “a stay of execution for our television program, The Chaser’s Royal Wedding Commentary
.” The letter says:
We, like Kate, are commoners, and were looking forward to celebrating her wedding to your exalted grandson with a few affectionate observations.
To ensure that our coverage was respectful, we were only planning to use jokes that Prince Phillip has previously made in public, or at least the ones that don't violate racial vilification laws. We've also filmed a joke about hunting grouse which we think you might enjoy.
We Australians are a simple people who don't often get to watch that kind of pomp. The last big wedding we had here was Scott and Charlene on Neighbours.
In the ABC’s media release
, Kim Dalton, Director of ABC TV said, “We’re surprised and disappointed at this very late stage to be informed that any satirical or comedic treatment of the marriage of Australia’s future Head of State has been banned.”
The ban is particularly surprising as other Australian broadcasters are also planning a comedic or alternative take on the wedding. For example the Nine Network has the cross dressing Dame Edna Everage
giving her commentary and the Ten Network has the 7PM Project taking a light-hearted approach to the royal wedding.
Dalton says, “Clearly, the BBC and Clarence House have decided The Chaser aren’t acceptable.”
Like many Australian’s I was looking forward to the Chaser’s coverage and have been thoroughly bemused by the pointless censorship. According to the ABC,
social media sites are mostly in support of the Chaser with comments such as:
"The royals: such a joke that they can't take any."
"How do I complain? They need to know they should come to their senses or they will turn me into a republican. I never cared before, but I care now."
"They made me care enough that I just joined Prince William's Facebook page to lodge a complaint. I haven't sat through weeks of wedding crap on TV to have the only part I was looking forward to taken from me."
Of course there are a few dissenters who don’t appreciate good satire, for example: "No loss. The Chaser are about as funny as a group of prepubescent school boys," and "about time someone pulled them into line."
But this misses the point. The Chaser would have provided an alternative perspective on the wedding and cutting commentary on the circus that surrounds the wedding. A view point that many of us have been looking for and would have thoroughly enjoyed on Friday night. The conventional coverage will still be available on ABC 1 for those who wanted it.
Julian Morrow has said in several interviews
that the Chaser team accepts that the ABC has been put in an "impossible position by people acting on behalf of the royal family." He also says, "For a monarchy to be issuing decrees about how the media should cover them seems quite out of keeping with modern democratic times... but I suppose that's exactly what the monarchy is."
I agree with him and the ban only serves to reinforce that the royals are out of touch, past their use by date, and most importantly lacking a sense of humour. It seems that not even the enchanting duo of Wills and Kate will save them from bringing about their own self-destruction.
Perhaps the ban is Royal revenge for The Chasers skit where they attempted to rent out rooms at Buckingham Palace. Enjoy the skit while you can, as it may be pulled from YouTube very soon.