Channel 4 has pulled a controversial episode of The IT Crowd from its streaming platform after “numerous complaints about transphobia”.
In the episode, which first aired in 2008, Douglas Reynholm (played by Matt Berry) develops a relationship with a trans woman called April (played by Lucy Montgomery).
When April tells Douglas that she is a trans woman, he mishears her, thinking she said she is “from Iran”.
The storyline leans on various tropes and myths about trans women, with much of the “humour” relying on the fact that April enjoys activities that are often seen as typically “male”, such as drinking beer and paintballing.
When Douglas eventually discovers that April is trans, he tells her: “It’s not you, it’s me. No actually, it’s not me, it is you,” before the pair launch into a violent physical fight.
After years of complaints from trans people and allies, Channel 4 has finally removed the episode from its streaming platform – and it’s safe to say creator Graham Linehan is not impressed.
The writer explained in a blog post how Channel 4 informed him of “numerous complaints about transphobia”.
The broadcaster reportedly conceded: “[While it is] clear that the prejudices of the character Reynholm sabotage his own happiness, the view of myself and others is that the episode ultimately risks appearing to endorse the view that trans women are in fact men and, more seriously arguably legitimises violence against them. For these reasons we do not think it is appropriate for it to remain on All 4.”
Linehan – who was permanently banned from Twitter in June for “hateful conduct” – said that as a result, he won’t be working with Channel 4 until they reinstate the episode.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the broadcaster said they are committed to maintaining “the greatest possible freedom of creative expression”.
“We believe that our All 4 archive is also a valuable historical record of our output and of the changing society of which we are a part,” they continued.
“In carefully reviewing the principles governing how we handle historic programmes across our platforms, our general approach has been to preserve the All 4 archive, adding warnings or making small edits as appropriate.
“However, after reviewing this particular episode in light of current audience expectations, we concluded it did not meet our standards for remaining available on All 4 and it was not possible to make adequate changes, and therefore it was removed.”