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Ted wrong Graham Linehan says Channel 4 racism warnings on Father Ted are 'disappointing'

He argued that by adding them, Channel 4 was paying attention to some of the most “hysterical people in the world”.

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Father Ted

Father Ted

Father Ted

Father Ted creator Graham Linehan has expressed his disappointment at Channel 4’s decision to add racism warnings before some episodes of the hit comedy series on the broadcaster’s online player.

Two episodes of the well-loved sitcom, which aired between 1995 and 1998, now have blackface and racial impersonation alerts for viewers who watch it via All 4.

Dublin-born Linehan co-wrote the hit comedy with Arthur Mathews and it became one of the most successful shows in Irish television history.

The Times reported Mr Linehan said that he not been informed about the new warnings.

“It’s news to me,” he said.

He argued that by adding them, Channel 4 was paying attention to some of the most “hysterical people in the world”.

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Graham Linehan

Graham Linehan

Graham Linehan

“Once they start they can’t stop and it’s going to make comedy impossible,” he added.

“You don’t get comedy by painting everything in a rosy light — you have to make fun of things and people. There’s so many warnings for everything now, it’s just never ending.”

The first warning, which was added to episode four of season one, relates to a priest in blackface pretending to be a member of the band The Supremes during a talent show.

“This episode was made in 1995 and contains a scene of blackface which some viewers may find offensive . . . This programme isn’t suitable for younger viewers,” the warning states.

The second warning, which relates to Father Ted doing an impression of a Chinese man, was added to episode one of season three.

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Ardal O’Hanlon and Dermot Morgan in Father Ted

Ardal O’Hanlon and Dermot Morgan in Father Ted

Ardal O’Hanlon and Dermot Morgan in Father Ted

The alert reads: “This episode was made in 1998 and contains language and racial impersonation which some viewers may find offensive.”

Linehan said he was surprised the show had not been removed altogether given Channel 4’s recent attitudes to comedy.

“You can’t make everyone happy,” he added.

In a statement, Channel 4 said: “We have carefully reviewed the principles governing how we handle historic programmes across our platforms. In light of current audience expectations, we have updated the viewer advice for certain episodes of Father Ted on All 4. No edits have been made to these brilliant and beloved comedy episodes and they remain available for audiences old and new to enjoy.”

The broadcaster previously said it would only remove offensive programmes in exceptional circumstances and preferred to add warnings instead.

Don Morgan, son of the late actor Dermot Morgan who played Father Ted, has previously insisted his father was not racist after calls for some episodes of the show to be removed.

Appeals were made on social media last summer when the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum, with some users claiming the show contained racist content.

In a tweet in June, Morgan said: “All I have left of my father is his work and reputation. He abhorred racism of every type and actively worked against it.”

Speaking previously to RTE Radio One’s Sunday with Miriam, he said: “My tweet was written more in sorrow than in anger. I’m not outraged or upset about anything in the sense that tastes and standards and viewpoints change over time.

“There was a lot of chatter on social media about the episode, and I felt the sorrow of realising that there is a shelf life to someone’s legacy. You do find yourself becoming aware of the fact that they’re not there anymore to preserve the legacy, and you become quite sensitive to the fact that he can’t speak up.”

He added: “Comedy is something that requires life — it requires somebody telling the joke and an audience understanding the assumptions that underpin the humour.”

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