Too hot to handle? Five TV shows which divide opinion today

Scenes from The Benny Hill Show, The Dukes of Hazzard and Till Death Us Do Part
Scenes from The Benny Hill Show, The Dukes of Hazzard and Till Death Us Do Part

THE BBC Scotland documentary #CancelKarenDunbar explores changing attitudes to humour, language and offence. Here we look back at some well-known TV series that, by today’s standards, could be considered outdated and unacceptable viewing.

The Benny Hill Show

The slapstick gags, double entendres and saucy seaside postcard humour that were no doubt seen as playful in the early years of the long-running BBC and ITV series may not sit well with some contemporary audiences. Originally shown between 1955 and 1989, episodes are currently being repeated on Freeview channel That’s TV.

Till Death Us Do Part

Is there a more abhorrent TV character than working-class bigot Alf Garnett? Comedy writer Johnny Speight’s most famous creation was a loud-mouthed, bad-tempered and unapologetic racist with right-wing views.

READ MORE: Karen Dunbar: 'I'm terrified of being cancelled over old comedy gags'

Yet, Garnett – played by Warren Mitchell – proved a huge hit with many viewers. During the BBC show’s run, from 1965 to 1975, it drew audiences of 20 million.

It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum

The BBC sitcom, which aired between 1974 and 1981, centred on frontline entertainers based in India towards the end of the Second World War. The series, created by Dad’s Army writers David Croft and Jimmy Perry, has been widely criticised for portraying blackface, racism, homophobia and imperialism. Repeats are no longer shown on UK television.

Married … With Children

Protagonist Al Bundy, played by Ed O’Neill in the late 1980s and early 1990s US sitcom, had a brand of vulgar, crude and sexist humour that rankles for many when watched back today.

READ MORE: Karen Dunbar on why the censors banned 'racist' Chewin’ The Fat sketch

Married … With Children has also been criticised for its objectification of women with Katey Sagal, who played Al’s wife Peggy Bundy, describing it as a “very misogynistic show.”

The Dukes of Hazzard

While the punchy theme tune for the 1980s action-comedy series presented the adventurous characters from the American South as “just two good ol’ boys” who were “never meanin’ no harm”, the Confederate flag atop their signature vehicle, the “General Lee”, has become synonymous with ties to slavery, white supremacy and racial hatred.

To read the full interview with Karen Dunbar in The Herald Magazine, click here