Channel 4 comedy about the Irish Famine stirs controversy

Channel 4 comedy about the Irish Famine stirs controversy

IT IS ONLY  in the development process, but already a script written by Dublin-based writer Hugh Travers about the Great Famine in Ireland is creating huge debate.

Channel 4 confirmed that a sitcom called Hungry “set in 19th century Ireland” by Travers and Irish-based production company Grand Pictures is in the development but “not currently planned to air.”

Travers, a writer of “live action drama, comedy, animation, theatre and documentary” who graduated from D.I.T and The Huston School of Film, told The Irish Times the premise of Hungry was along the lines of the TV show “Shameless set in famine Ireland.”

In response, Fairlie Gordon of Glasgow has started a petition which currently has over 28,434, signatures to stop the programme going ahead.

Gordon said “Famine or genocide is no laughing matter…any programme on this issue would have to be of serious historical context…not a comedy."

This year marks the 170th anniversary of the potato famine in Ireland, which lasted six years from 1846 until 1851, while the country was part of the British Empire.

The Famine wiped out one eighth of the Irish population and forced the emigration of two million people.

Professor Christine Kinealy, born and raised in Liverpool, is Director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University.

She told The Irish Post: "The population of Ireland remains smaller today than it was in 1845, making it unique amongst western democracies who have all experienced massive population growth.  Put another way, the impact of the Famine continues to this day.  There was no neat or happy ending. “

Reaction on social media has been polarized with some saying that no judgement should be made until the show is aired.

Others took to Twitter to cite Father Ted as an example of a comedy that poked fun at ‘serious’ subjects like the Catholic Church and other black comedies like Blackadder.

Father Ted andThe IT Crowd writer Graham Linehan tweeted: “Ppl have been asking me about the C4 famine comedy controversy so I'll get this over with. Tis dumb. Controversy is dumb, petition is dumb”.

Travers is relatively unknown in Ireland and Britain but his play LAMBO was nominated for an award in the Dublin Fringe Festival and after being adapted for RTE Radio, it was voted the best radio play of 2014 at the PPI awards.

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