POLICE are investigating a hate crime allegation after comedian Sophie Duker joked about “killing whitey” on Frankie Boyle’s New World Order show.
It has been confirmed that Greater Manchester Police are looking into concerns over the comment on the show after the BBC dismissed over 1000 complaints.
Objections about the reference made by Sophie Duker on the show which aired in September reached Stage 2 of the BBC’s complaints process to its independent Executive Complaints Unit but they were not upheld.
It sparked a debate over what is and it not acceptable within comedy, with the BBC saying that the content of the show was “within audience” expectations post-watershed satirical programme and they looked forward to continue to work with her.
And Ms Duker said that the backlash over her comments was a “harsh wake-up call to the toxicity of the media” and that she had been “singled out out for a joke”.
Ms Duker’s on air comments came while responding to a clip of black author James Baldwin discussing the idea of black power in an interview from the 1970s.
Addressing the video in question, Ms Duker suggested the terms “black power and white power” were capitalist myths that are “so prevalent today”.
She said: “Like white power is Trump Tower. When we say we want to kill whitey, we don’t really want to kill whitey,” she continued, but then quickly added “we do” and adding “not today,” eliciting laughter from fellow panel members.
She added: “Whiteness is a capitalist structure, it benefits itself. It hurts white people, it hurts non-black people, it hurts black people, but still [there’s] this kind of fear of a black alternative and its these rhetorics [that are]battled against each other, these extreme capitalist rhetorics of supremacy.”
BBC officially dismiss 1300 complaints about comedian Sophie Duker joking about killing white people on Frankie Boyle show
As well as the complaints to the BBC, dozens of people complained to broadcast watchdog Ofcom.
Complaints were also made to the police.
And now Greater Manchester Police confirmed that it was investigating saying: “We received a report of a hate incident and enquiries are on-going.”
Ms Duker caused anger in some sections of the media with the comment on the September 10 edition of New World Order and some 1,300 people complained to the BBC amid the extensive media coverage – including one columnist Sarah Vine complaining that the comment was “putrid nonsense” that indicated support for a “hateful dogma”
But the BBC said: “Frankie Boyle’s New World Order was shown after 10pm and its content is within audience expectations for a post-watershed, topical, satirical programme from a comedian whose style and tone are well-established.
“Every week on the show Frankie puts forward a number of topics for debate, this episode was no different. The panellists’ comments were in response to a motion that was written and presented in line with the programme’s tone and style.
“Sophie Duker is a talented comedian and a regular panellist on Frankie Boyle’s New World Order, and we look forward to continue working with her at the BBC.”
Among those supporting Ms Duker was fellow comedian Katherine Ryan who described her as a “genius”.
She said: “Sophie Duker is a genius (and some will never *get* ironic exposition of a position) but notice the only people mad at her are also fresh off being mad about a dance.”
That was a reference to the 24,500 complaints that were made to the broadcast regulator Ofcom over an episode of Britain’s Got Talent earlier in the same month which featured a Black Lives Matters-inspired routine, in what was one of the most complained about TV events in a decade.
Watch – Diversity tribute to Black Lives Matters becomes second most complained about TV moment in ten years
The routine, which ITV said it stood by, featured the Diversity dance group leader Ashley Banjo being knelt on by a police officer, a reference to George Floyd’s death in police custody.
There were also backing dancers performing dressed in riot gear and the group took the knee during the performance.
The regulator said it would not formally investigate. It concluded that the programme did not raise issues which warranted further action under its broadcasting rules.
“Its central message was a call for social cohesion and unity”, it noted.
Ms Duker says she had been “singled out out for a joke” that had been “peppered with enough LOLs to avoid pious sermon territory”.
“Yet a scared, sad, cynical someone smelt subversion — and fumed,” she said.
“Then came the right-wing media storm. They knew ‘kill whitey’ would get clicks.”
She added: “To put it bluntly, racists can’t take a joke. They’ll cry hate speech rather than concede a chuckle, attempting to silence anyone they deem subversive. With comedians, a funny tinge marks you out as a target — but running your mouth about race makes you Public Enemy No 1.”
In a commentary for online women’s magazine Bustle, she said that her social media accounts ended up being “clogged with upstanding citizens” calling her a “vile racist whore” and posting monkey emojis and swastikas, and asking: “My infant son is white. Do you want him to die?!”.
“The bullies wanted me sacked, shamed, silenced. But what actually triggered the poor dears wasn’t me riffing on a borrowed phrase, it was race being discussed with maturity and without self-consciousness,” she said.
“The manufactured outrage was tactically deployed white noise. It was damaging because it drowned out not only my point about white supremacy harming people of every race but also many astute observations from my hilarious, eloquent colleagues.
The controversy surrounding Sophie Duker came only a couple of weeks after Tim Davie, the incoming BBC director general vowed to tackle left-wing bias in their comedy programming, in order to restore “trust and confidence” of the public in the corporation.
The new director-general was understood to think the corporation’s shows are seen as too one-sided and needed a radical overhaul.
Under the reported proposal, BBC programme creators were expected to find a better balance of targets on the shows, rather than just aiming jokes at the Conservatives.
Those running comedy panel shows would also be encouraged to book guests with a wider range of opinions on issues in the UK.
The BBC came under fire last year after scrapping plans to sing Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope of Glory at the Last Night of the Proms.
The broadcaster axed the singing of the historic tunes over their perceived links to colonialism and slavery but later reversed their decision after a public outcry.