A Manchester MP has put forward a motion in the House of Commons, British Parliament, calling for Channel 4 to drop the proposed sitcom “Hungry”, to be set during the Irish Famine.
Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament John Leech put forward the motion earlier this week calling the sitcom idea “insensitive and potentially highly offensive.” Leech is referring to the sitcom, written by Dublin writer Hugh Travers, which is in development with the British TV station Channel 4.
His motion read:
“That this House notes that the Great Irish Famine resulted in the deaths of one million people and the emigration of up to two million more, reducing Ireland's population by a quarter; recognizes that these events have had an indelible impact upon Ireland, with the country's population still lower today than in 1845; further notes that Channel 4 is planning to create a comedy series called Hungry, about the Great Irish Famine; further notes with concern that the intended tone of this sitcom is to be similar to the Shameless comedy series, set in Ireland during the famine; believes that a tragedy of this magnitude represents inappropriate subject matter for such a sitcom; and calls on Channel 4 to reconsider its decision to produce this insensitive and potentially highly offensive comedy programme.”
Leech’s was an Early Day Motion which had little chance of being debated. They exist to allow Members of Parliament to raise issues.
Chortle, the British news website with a focus on the comedy industry, reported that Leech’s motion “attracted little support, with a rather eclectic collection of just three fellow MPs putting their name to it.”
The British site also pointed out that in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, by Islamic terrorists, which saw 17 people murdered over a number of days, Leech was among those to defend free speech by posing with a “Je Suis Charlie” banner. He also tweeted the message “Free speech and democracy should never be undervalued. Today Manchester stands together with Paris.”
Controversy over the Irish Famine sitcom kicked off when “Hungry’s” writer, Travers, mentioned the project in a short Irish Times interview in December 2014. The very notion of the sitcom prompted a Glaswegian, Fairlie Gordon, to set up an online petition which over 35,000 signed. There was even a protest planned outside Channel 4 buildings in London, to which only a handful of protesters actually turned out.