The trials and tribulations of Mr Khan

Opinions are like arseholes: it’s best to keep yours to yourself and they only get worse with age.

People are well entitled to have opinions on whatever they like, though as previously explained if you disagree with me on music you are simply wrong. This I have most recently pointed out to my grandfather, who it transpires erroneously believes he has built up the right to enjoy the saxophone over the course of his 88 years on Earth. He is mistaken.

One thing that will divide opinion more than virtually anything else is comedy. Few actions available to us, at least ones that won’t get us arrested or exiled, are as enjoyable as laughter. Laughter’s so brilliant we can take pleasure from watching other people doing it, or even just hearing it – sometimes even canned laughter on TV. Which brings me to Citizen Khan.

What in the name of all that’s fucking holy were the BBC thinking when they commissioned this atrocity? For anyone who hasn’t bled from the eyeballs watching a trailer featuring a parodic Asian family gurning about tragically, Citizen Khan, and this is from Wikipedia, “follows the trials and tribulations of Mr Khan, a loud-mouthed, patriarchal, self-appointed community leader, and his long suffering wife and daughters”. Furthermore, “In Series One, Kris Marshall starred as Dave, the manager of Mr Khan’s local mosque”. Dave. Remarkable.

I tend to trust the BBC in most matters, despite how often they invite Melanie Phillips onto Question Time. They produce some fine programmes, including comedy – I will happily rank The Thick of It, Red Dwarf, Blackadder and Yes, Minister among the finest shows ever made, and it’ll surprise nobody to know I bloody love One Foot in the Grave. Two recent efforts, Uncle and The Detectorists, were unexpected treats.

Occasionally the BBC screw up and we could each list a barrel load of shite TV they’ve produced, including many sitcoms. Many terrible shows only last one series and the Beeb can be forgiven for taking a punt on things that don’t work out, but you saw those two words up there didn’t you? That’s right: ‘Series One’.

There’s been more than one series of Citizen Khan. In fact if you head over to the iPlayer now you’ll be able to catch up on episodes from Series Three.

Who the hell finds this debacle funny? The dimwittedness of TV viewers knows no bounds when it comes to things like Big Brother, and the singing and dancing spectaculars they mindlessly goggle at of a Saturday night, but a purported comedy about an Asian family that makes Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em look like, well, Citizen Kane? Is this really happening?

And evidently I’ve misunderstood what racism’s about if this doesn’t fall into that category. Do I have to start calling my mum a nigger now? Please don’t make me.

OK, everyone finds different things funny, I get that. The universal hilarity of watching people fall over and/or hurt themselves aside, the fact that everyone has their own sense of humour is what makes comedy so special. For some reason this is best summed up by Irish sitcoms – Father Ted, one of the Republic’s finest exports, makes me laugh until milk comes out of my nose. Moone Boy was a surprisingly entertaining, cheeky-but-inoffensive watch. And then there’s something called The Walshes, which made me very angry the other night, a falsely stereotypical batch of Irish ‘idiots’ japing their way through uproarious misunderstandings for thirty graceless minutes.

And I’ll be the first to admit some things are not intended for me. Though the movies are superb I never really got my head around Monty Python’s TV series, and much as I loved Spike Milligan it was more for his writing than for The Goon Show. Surreality is not to my taste, and though I can see why people might enjoy Flight of the Conchords, it’s not for me. That said, anyone involved in The Mighty Boosh should be branded with ‘I’M SORRY’ on their foreheads.

Obviously not everyone finds what I find funny in any way amusing. My favourite programme of all time, I’m not ashamed to admit, is Minder. I tell people that often, usually as they back away slowly with their palms facing me, eyes darting left to right. I can’t explain what exactly it is about Arthur Daley that makes me believe he’s the finest comedy creation of all time. People think I’m obsessed with Dennis Waterman because I also love the original Sweeney and I have a New Tricks habit I can’t seem to shake, but it’s Arthur, it’s always Arthur.

But surely we can agree that programmes like Citizen Khan must be stopped. There are plenty of gormless sitcoms for the idiots to enjoy – see Not Going Out, Benidorm if that’s still going, and presumably Michael argh-please-God-no-more McIntyre will have a sitcom of his own before long. That Outnumbered programme, that’ll work if you really need ‘family’ comedy. And if sitcoms are just too white for you, for Christ’s sake pick up a box set of Desmond’s, because that was bloody superb without needing to patronise either non-whites or liberals needing a show to demonstrate how right-on they were.

I stared open-mouthed at 12 minutes of the first episode of Citizen Khan, and tried hard to scrub it from my memory. I completely missed the second series and assumed there hadn’t been one. That it’s made it to a third is as unknowable to me as Mark Lawrenson’s continued presence on football coverage or how Terry Wogan disguises his syrup so well.

I’m loathe to bring the licence fee into it but part of my annual BBC tax is going on this foul endeavour. I hope the BBC’s security is up to scratch in their lovely new building in Marylebone because the moment they announce Series Four, thoughts will turn to shotguns and dynamite and taking as many of them with me as I can.

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