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Dublin: 9 °C Monday 18 March, 2019

Channel 4's proposed sitcom about The Famine called 'insulting' and 'ignorant'

But the Irish-produced series – called Hungry – has been defended by other comedians.

The Famine Memorial on Dublin's quays
The Famine Memorial on Dublin's quays
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

AN ONLINE PETITION HAS been launched to prevent Channel 4 making a comedy programme about the Great Famine, while a Fianna Fáil councillor has branded the project “ignorant” and “insulting”.

The comedy – to be titled Hungry – is being developed by the UK broadcaster with Dublin-based production company Deadpan Pictures.

It will be written by Hugh Travers, an award-winning screenwriter whose most recent play LAMBO – about the notorious 1987 incident involving Gerry Ryan and a lamb - was well-reviewed.

Fianna Fáil councillor David McGuinness has called the project “nothing short of insulting to the memory of those people affected.”

He added in a statement:

I firmly believe the Irish people and Irish diaspora throughout the world, will join me in condemning Channel 4’s financing of a show to embarrass and denigrate this important event in Irish history.

Prominent US-based Irish journalist Niall O’Dowd has also strongly criticised the proposed series, writing in an op-ed for his news site Irish Central:

What’s up next?? A sitcom on The Holocaust maybe with funny fat Nazis eating victims alive? Or how about a comedy about Ebola with black kids dying on screen and doctors telling funny jokes about them?

However, the concept also has its defenders. These include the Rubberbandits, who tweeted yesterday:

Speaking to Lauren Murphy in the Irish Times – in the article which brought the project to wider attention – Hugh Travers said: “I don’t want to do anything that denies the suffering that people went through, but Ireland has always been good at black humour.”

Some 1,700 people have so far signed a petition launched yesterday calling on Channel 4 to stop development on the series. “Famine or genocide is no laughing matter,” the petition says.

The comedy has also been hotly debate on Twitter, with a variety of points of view on offer: has contacted Channel 4 and Deadpan Pictures for comment.

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About the author:

Michael Freeman

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