Should 7TWO screen Love Thy Neighbour?

2014-10-24_0209In an interview with News Corp. Ray Martin has questioned whether 7TWO should be screening 1970s UK sitcom Love Thy Neighbour.

The series, which airs at 10.30am and 4am from Thursday, revolves around a working class couple struggling with their black neighbours. It ran for 4 years from 1972 – 1976 before an Australian sequel, but its writers have claimed that each episode included both anti-white and anti-black sentiment.

Ray Martin, currently working on an indigenous series for SBS called First Contact, told the newspaper he was surprised racist legislation doesn’t block it from airing.

“The idea that this can be something that we can joke about — it’s not up there for ridicule at all. It’s insensitive, and it’s very hurtful, and it comes at a time when Australians are trying to deal with this kind of scourge of mental illness among Aboriginal people,” he said.

“It can’t pretend to be funny anymore. It’s just hurtful and cruel. It’s not meant to encourage of course, but it really shouldn’t be there for people to laugh at.”

Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Soutphommansane said, “I can understand why some people may find the contents of this program upsetting.

“At the same time, people should appreciate that Love Thy Neighbour is a program that was made in the 1970s, in part to critique racist attitudes.”

A spokesman for Seven said “Love Thy Neighbour is one of those English comedies of its time and Eddie [the white character] who is quite rightly portrayed as a fool and a bigot.”

It’s a tricky dilemma. Two nights ago Seven played Homicide in which women weren’t treated with much consideration. Should we also ban Kingswood Country, Benny Hill?  What about Are You Being Served? for the way both gay men and women were stereotyped? Frankly I would watch All in the Family in a heartbeat. Same for ‘Allo ‘Allo.

Personally I would be more uncomfortable with bans than with screening historic shows (Hey Dad! is an exception for other reasons).

Watching someone being racist does not mean I will become such. The idea of history is that we learn from it, surely.

Thinking adults should be able to choose to watch social history and learn from it, or have the choice not to participate. I choose not to participate in the comedic musings of Mrs. Brown’s Boys.

The fact this is being made in 2014 is far more offensive than Love Thy Neighbour.


  1. Nothing wrong with this and do take into account these are older sitcoms from forty something odd years ago.People should let it be.There are things a lot worse now.

  2. So Ray Martin is an expert on comedy now is he?? i wonder if he really even watched much of the show if any. Comedy has to be viewed in the context with which it is intended. Like others have said, its obvious that the white guy comes off looking foolish in the end for his bigoted attitude.
    I wonder what Ray makes of Legally Brown on SBS or if he will watch the upcoming Black Comedy on ABC?

  3. What a timely reminder of how daring TV comedy once was. Just the other day at my workplace we had this conversation about some Aussie TV Classics including Kingswood Country and how we collectively laughed at Ted Bullpit. Imagine if you would a continuation of Kingswood Country today with Ted’s grand-daughter marrying a Muslim. There would be a collective outcry of “Racism.” No Australian network would be brave enough to produce or air such a show without the risk of offending some sensitive soul. And for this, we all lose.

  4. Sorry David I can’t agree with your comments about mrs Browns boys, whilst it’s not in the league of some great comedies, it still gives us a break from the boring PC world that we are being forced to live in. I find housos far more offensive than MBB,

  5. So I guess TEN rerunning “The Black & White Minstrels Show” is out of the question?
    “Ray Martin has questioned…”. Has anyone else?
    “Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Soutphommansane said, “I can understand why some people may find the contents of this program upsetting.”.
    Ah, “some people”. As Margaret Thatcher asked of Ray’s mate George Negus “which people, whom?”.
    As said on IMDb “it wasn’t as offensive as the thought police would have you believe”.

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