What Happened To Black Comedy?


Where and when did the idea of black comedy come into being, and what happened to this distinctive literary genre? Let’s start by defining terminology. Black comedy involves a work that makes light of serious, disturbing and possibly taboo subjects. It corresponds to the earlier concept of ‘gallows humour’ and is often controversial due to its subject matter. […]

The Impossibility Of Keeping Up


At a book launch last year, a lady author of middling years said to me; ‘Oh, I suppose you’re one of these people who do The Twitter,’ making it sound like a 1920s dance craze. But I take her point. Since the advent of rolling news, keeping up with trending ideas and tropes has become […]

The Strange Story Of ‘Camp’


The term ‘camp’ comes from the French term se camper, meaning ‘to pose in an exaggerated fashion’, and was first used in 1909, although it has long been regarded as etymologically obscure. Back then it was noted to mean ostentatious, exaggerated, affected, theatrical or effeminate, but it didn’t stay in those pigeonholes. The rise of post-modernism made […]

Can Stories Avoid Class Issues?


I hate rom-coms. I remember being forced to sit through ‘Pretty Woman’ and hating it, mainly because I brought the baggage of British class consciousness to the film, which then becomes about a middle-class man exploiting a working class prostitute. This clearly wasn’t the intention of the makers, who were simply modernising Cinderella, but unfortunately […]

The Year’s Best TV Show


In the last few years a handful of TV series have proved to be better than anything Hollywood can hope to produce; ‘Six Feet Under’, ‘The Wire’, ‘The West Wing’, ‘The Newsroom’, ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell’, ‘The Bridge’, ‘Trapped’ and of course ‘Breaking Bad’. To that illustrious list should now be added ‘The People […]

Why Haven’t Bryant & May Made It To TV?


Morse got there. Vera did too, and Wallender and everyone from Lord Peter Whimsey to the wonderfully eccentric Mrs Bradley – they all ended up as TV series. You can’t move without falling over Sherlocks, and even Christie’s boring Tuppences had their own show. The question I get asked on a daily basis is ‘Why […]

The End Of Press Freedom Reaches Turkey


After taking over Zaman, the biggest daily Turkish newspaper, the ruling AKP and its President Recep Erdogan have swallowed the news agency Cihan, leaving only a tiny handful of independents with free speech – if they are brave enough to speak out at all. Most of the Turkish public get their news from the TV, […]

It’s Miserable Out So Here’s A Bit Of Comic Genius


Stewart Lee on those damned immigrants, from his BBC show. Priceless, bizarre, mad. Buy his books and DVDs.

Everybody Wants Content – Nobody Wants To Pay


First a quick history of 20th century print; Newspapers employed journalists, who carried out court reporting and studied investigative journalism, and had salaries at the publishing house, which paid the printers and distributed papers. The press barons were bigoted – the Daily Mail supported Hitler – and the print union chapels got greedy and destroyed […]

Why We Won’t Need Print Newspapers At All Anymore


So the Independent – which 30 years ago had set out its stall as the UK’s only independent newspaper – shuts down on March 20th. On Friday I filed my four final columns for the paper with an air of great sadness. We have (I think) eleven national newspapers, the majority of which are right-wing. […]