Go home, Bill Bailey

The comedian Bill Bailey nailed his colours to the wrong mast last night when he told an audience at the Edinburgh Festival of Spirituality that Jerry Springer: The Opera had “overstepped the mark” and that the Jyllands-Posten Mo-toons were “amateurish, heavy handed, and shoddy”, and shouldn’t have been published.


I can see why people would be offended, given the subject matter and how it deals with Christianity. The question is “is the end result valid?”. Is it worth all the offence it’s going to cause? And in that, I think Jerry Springer did overstep the mark.

Now, instead of being seen as a work on its own merit, its notoriety has scuppered its own intentions

Bailey neglected to note that the show had a long and successful run in the West End before the controversy was stirred up. Nor did he mention that the JS:TO controversy was stirred up, just like the Mo-toons, by self-appointed, self-aggrandising “religious leaders” whose primary aim was to increase their own public profile.

Regarding his Mo-toons remarks, the tired old claim that the cartoons we somehow of poor quality suggests that he hasn’t actually seen them. At least two, the paranoid cartoonist at his drawing board, and the “we’ve run out of virgins”, could be considered genuinely funny, a couple were aimed at the Jylands-Posten itself, and several others were neutral portrayals of Mohammed. The only one of the original twelve that caused offence – the turban bomb – could be said to be making a valid satirical point about the connection between Islamism and terrorism. Which is why the Danish imams felt obliged to add three more, far less subtle, portrayals of Mohammed in order to stir up the kind of response they were looking for.

Silly Bill Bailey fails to put the blame where the blame lies.

10 Responses to “Go home, Bill Bailey”

  1. Andy Gilmour says:

    Maybe the fact he was addressing something calling itself a “Festival of Spirituality” might point us in the direction of an obvious explanation for his comments…

    Supernaturalist is as supernaturalist does, even if it is the mighty BB….

    ho hum.

  2. Andy A says:

    Bugger! I rather like Bill Bailey. What do I do now? It’s always a dilemma. Do you create a personal boycott of someone whose views you find unpalatable, or just say, ‘Well, if I boycotted everyone who had views that vied with mine I’d never watch any actor, comedian or singer’? I boycott Mel Gibson, though, sodding homophobe! And what makes it better is that I haven’t told him I’m boycotting his films. That’ll larn ’im!

  3. Mr Flibble says:

    He did put God into room 101.

    So he’s not all bad!

  4. Andrew Nixon says:

    That was Harry Hill.

  5. Mr Flibble says:

    No Sorry, that was Harry Hill.

  6. Mr Flibble says:

    Andrew You just beat to it.

  7. Nosemonkey says:

    I’ve seen the Mo toons umpteen times, and I’d say they’re shit. I wouldn’t say they shouldn’t have been published, but I’d certainly say that if I were the commissioning editor on the paper, I’d think carefully about whether the cartoonists deserved payment for such piss-poor efforts.

    As for Bailey’s JS:TO remarks, sounds to me like he’s got a valid point. The opera itself is not all about offending Christians, it has a far broader satirical remit. Yet thanks to having offended some Christians (some of whom have gone on to campaign about it), the broader points of the satire have been lost. It doesn’t matter that it had a successful West End run before the controversy icked off – since then it has simply become a focus for debate over religious censorship, rather than what its creators originally intended. Hence “its notoriety has scuppered its own intentions”.

    Methinks a bit of an over-reaction. I especially like Andy A’s reaction, wondering whether to boycott Bailey because he doesn’t agree with him. Sounds a tad like the reaction a certain Christian organisation has been known to have to people who don’t agree with them…

  8. Monitor says:

    I rather like Bill Bailey too, which is why I was disappointed by his silly remarks. There’s no point arguing about the artistic merits of the Mo-toons, but I maintain that the quality varied from poor to rather good. As far as Bailey’s JS:TO remarks are concerned, he is certainly putting the blame in the wrong place.

    JS:TO did not “scupper its own intentions” – the fact that it had an uncontroversial and award-winning run in the West End prior to the furore proves that. It worked as intended, for a while. Until its intentions were scuppered by a handful of offence-seeking, attention-hungry fundamentalists.

    Bailey blames the show itself for this, and suggests that all artists should be careful not to make the same mistake of upsetting the religious. I think he should be blaming the offence-seekers.

    I’m not calling for a boycott. Just saying he’s wrong.

  9. Marc Draco says:

    Personally, I didn’t like him much anyway, so nothing lost for me there. He always reminded me of that lunatic on the Safestyle windows adverts (who is apparently as crazy as he actually appears).

  10. Shaun Hollingworth says:


    Won’t you stay home Bill Bailey, Won’t you stay home ?

    I know you done us wronggg…

    Bill Bailey won’t you please stay home!