Yr Wyddfa: BBC defends ‘tedious’ Have I Got News For You Welsh language ‘jokes’
The BBC has defended an episode of Have I Got News For You which included ‘jokes’ claiming that the Welsh language was unpronounceable.
In response an avalanche of complains, the corporation has claimed that the attempted gags about the campaign to use only the Welsh language name Yr Wyddfa instead of Snowdon, were not “intended to be taken seriously”.
It suggested that comedy is a “very subjective area” and that it does not “set out to cause offence”.
The show was panned as online, with viewers describing the jibes about the Welsh language as “weak and tedious,” “lazy” and “offensive”.
During the episode, guest host Alexander Armstrong asked: “What else might be changing its name shortly?”
“Oh! Mount Snowdon,” team captain Paul Merton said.
“Yes. It’s going to be called zuuru-buh,” journalist Kirsty Wark said, making exaggerated grunting noises.
“A motion has been brought forward by a councillor that it should only ever be referred to by its Welsh name,” Alexander Armstrong said, pointing to the name on screen and not attempting to pronounce it.
“I was born in Wales,” the other team captain Ian Hislop said. “I didn’t spend very long there. Yr Wyddfa.”
“Disgusting these white lefties mean we can’t dead name a mountain now,” comedian Joe Lycett said. “Sorry, I’m trying to add a bit of BBC…”
“Racism,” said Paul Merton.
Alexander Armstrong later said: “Wales’ highest mountain Snowdon may soon only be called by its Welsh name. I believe the correct pronunciation of the mountain – I’m going to have a go at it, good luck… Snowdon.
“This is part of a trend to reclaim traditional Welsh names that have been Anglicised. For instance, Councillor John Pughe Roberts said that Hellfire Pass should be more accurately knows as Bull-head Groes [Bwlch y Groes]. Or even more accurately, the A363.”
A BBC spokesperson told the Metro: “Comedy is of course a very subjective area and it is perhaps inevitable that jokes which are acceptable to some will strike others as distasteful.
“We do not set out to cause offence, but we realise comments made about Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa on last Friday’s programme made some of our audience members unhappy.
“HIGNFY takes a satirical look at the latest news stories, and none of the jokes are intended to be taken seriously.”
The segment was criticised online with viewers describing it as “deeply disrespectful” and “offensive”.
Cardiff Council Leader Huw Thomas said: “Pretty pitiful from Kirsty Wark cracking a joke at ‘unpronounceable’ Welsh names. Not exactly cutting edge comedy is it? So why not show Welsh the same respect you would any other language?
“Poorly judged by Have I Got News For You scriptwriters, and I suspect Merton and Hislop thought so too.”
Duncan Brodie said: “I usually like Have I Got News For You but why the production team continue to believe that ridiculing the Welsh language puts them at the cutting edge of satire remains a mystery. It’s weak and tedious.”
Prof. Amanda Rogers said: “I have a sense of humour but tonight’s episode of Have I Got News For You was deeply disrespectful and offensive to Welsh people.
“Welsh legally should be treated as equal to English especially by BBC broadcasting in Wales. Armstrong and Wark appalling. At least try to say Yr Wyddfa. It’s lazy to mock a nation.”
Dr. Dave Jones, the clinical director for intensive care at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil, said: “Have I Got News For You doing a whole ‘comedy’ routine around ‘don’t the Welsh talk funny?’ using typical predictable, tedious and fairly unfunny tropes. Great work lads.”
Reporter Anthony Lewis said: “I hear a joke was made about the Welsh language on Have I Got News For You… ironically about something that is piss easy to pronounce.”
T. L. Gjersten said: “It’s a shame, I used to really like Alexander Armstrong. Thought he would have been better than that.”