Comedy show Have I Got News For You was accused of broadcasting a torrent of ‘spiteful and crass insults’ as it dedicated Friday night’s episode to Mr Johnson.
In one shocking moment, host Jack Dee quoted a newspaper article that referred to the departing Prime Minister as a ‘cosmic ****’ – a moment greeted by gales of laughter in the studio. Panellists also suggested that Mr Johnson had taken cocaine.
BBC Director-General Tim Davie is set to be grilled over the slurs and other claims of impartiality when he faces MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee on Tuesday.
The satirical programme was also accused of ‘blatant sexism’ in attacking Ms Truss and Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries. Casting aspersions on Ms Truss’s mental state, Dee said Downing Street is ‘believed to be getting quotes for padded wallpaper’, while Ms Dorries was mocked as ‘Lady Barking’.
Comedy show Have I Got News For You was accused of broadcasting a torrent of ‘spiteful and crass insults’ as it dedicated Friday night’s episode to Mr Johnson. Host Jack Dee (pictured) quoted a newspaper article that referred to the departing Prime Minister as a ‘cosmic ****’
Last night, Tory MP Sir John Hayes said: ‘Clever satire requires clever people, but TV comedy has fallen a long way. All the wit of great British satire has been replaced with snide sneers and crass cruelty. What you saw on Friday was a series of spiteful insults.’
Peer and former Labour MP Ian Austin said: ‘Suggesting one of the most powerful women in the country is hysterical and in need of a padded cell is blatant sexism. Satire is incredibly important – but I thought tropes about women being mad were a thing of the past. Clearly not.’
A source close to the DCMS committee told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Tim Davie is to appear in front of us on Tuesday and he can expect a rough ride. He can expect a grilling over BBC impartiality across the board.’
That comment was echoed by a senior BBC insider who said: ‘It’s very revealing that the tone and drumbeat of comedy on the BBC is all in one direction – anti-Conservative and pro-Left. Those in charge of the BBC have long talked a good game about impartiality without actually doing anything.’
The BBC is facing fresh scrutiny over anti-Tory bias after Boris Johnson (pictured) and Liz Truss were subjected to a relentless barrage of highly personal attacks on primetime TV
It is only the latest claims of political bias across the BBC. In 2020, researchers found just four out of 364 BBC comedy slots in a month were given to Tory or pro-Brexit views.
Friday’s Have I Got News For You also featured regular panellists Ian Hislop and Paul Merton, with Janet Street-Porter and comedian Phil Wang. In the most offensive moment, Mr Dee cited a report in The Times quoting a Cabinet Minister calling Mr Johnson a ‘cosmic ****’.
Ms Street Porter recalled an interview with Mr Johnson, in which he declined to say whether he had taken cocaine,.
Mr Merton then interrupted: ‘If the question is have you taken cocaine and the answer is ‘I’m not answering that’, clearly the answer is they did.’
On the sexist jibes, Women’s Rights Network founder Heather Binning said: ‘I am disappointed that the BBC time and time again sees women –particularly successful women – as comedic fodder.’
BBC Director-General Tim Davie (pictured in May, giving evidence to the Lords) is set to be grilled over the slurs and other claims of impartiality when he faces MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee on Tuesday
On Thursday, the show’s Twitter account posted a picture of Liz Truss with the caption: ‘#TransferDeadlineDay latest: UK government set to unveil offensive right winger.’ Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: ‘It’s clear the biased BBC’s knives are out. Have they ever called anyone an ‘offensive Left-winger’?’
On the same day, the UKTV Dave show Late Night Mash aired an offensive comment from comedian Rachel Parris accusing Ms Truss of ‘cosplaying as [Lady] Thatcher but without her one redeeming feature of no longer being alive’.
The channel is owned by the Corporation’s commercial arm BBC Studios. UKTV said the programme ‘takes aim across the political spectrum’.
The BBC declined to comment on Friday’s episode but said: ‘Have I Got News For You has a long history of making jokes about politicians of all hues’ – and pointed out that production company Hat Trick was responsible for the Twitter account.