Famine historian Tim Pat Coogan criticizes Channel 4 sitcom

Posted By: January 05, 2015

James O’Shea @irishcentral January 05,2015 

Irish historian and author of “The Famine Plot”, Tim Pat Coogan, wades in as 25,000 sign anti-Channel 4 Famine sitcom petition.
Famine historian and author Tim Pat Coogan has joined the media commentators, politicians, and petitioners who have criticized Channel 4’s plans to develop a sitcom about the Irish Famine.

Meanwhile, 25,000 people have signed an online petition against Channel 4 making a sitcom on Ireland’s famine. Glaswegian, Fairlie Gordon, set up the online petition which calls on Channel 4 to stop a sitcom about the Great Hunger.

Leading historian Tim Pat Coogan agrees.

“It does seem an unsavory thing, with such agony, and it being such a horrendous thing that still has a bad effect on relationships between Ireland and England,” said Coogan, the author of “The Famine Plot.”

“We could be all pleasantly surprised, but my initial reaction is one of dismay. Would they make a comedy series about the Holocaust? It really does defeat your powers of comprehension,” he told the Irish Times.

“You really would have to be talking about making jokes about Belsen and Auschwitz and the gas chambers to make it an equivocal thing in our lifetime.”

Irish scriptwriter Hugh Travers comedy series about the famine, set to be titled “Hungry,” is still in the writing stage, but Coogan says he disagrees with the writer’s assertions that “comedy equals tragedy plus time.”

“Murder, genocide, people dying, retching with their faces green from eating weeds, their bowels hanging out of them – no passage of time will make that funny,” said Coogan.

British broadcaster Channel 4 issued a press release last week in response to the criticism.

“This in the development process and is not currently planned to air… It’s not unusual for sitcoms to exist against backdrops that are full of adversity and hardship,” it read.