Comedy is being ‘nuked’ while reality TV gets away with sex and swearing, says ‘Allo ‘Allo! star

·3 min read
Vicki Michelle played the French waitress Yvette Carte-Blanche in the series
Vicki Michelle played the French waitress Yvette Carte-Blanche in the series

Comedy is being “neutralised”, according to ‘Allo ‘Allo! star Vicki Michelle, while reality TV shows are allowed to get away with rampant sex and swearing.

The actress who played the French waitress Yvette Carte-Blanche in the series, has said that most viewers would welcome new comedies in the style of ‘Allo ‘Allo!, but a minority would take offence.

Michelle has claimed that reality TV programmes continue to depict sex and swearing, while classic comedy is being “neutralised” amid concerns about offensive content.

A string of content warnings for TV series was issued last year by streaming service BritBox - a collaborative venture between the BBC and other broadcasters - including one advisory note which told viewers that ‘Allo ‘Allo! featured “outdated” material.

Comedy is being neutralised - or nuked,” Ms Michelle said. “I think 80 per cent of this country would love comedy like ‘Allo ‘Allo! to be made again, so 20 per cent might take aversion to some of the content.”

The series which ran from 1982 to 1992 was set at the Cafe Rene in the town of Nouvion and followed the comic troubles of proprietor Rene Artois - played by Gorden Kaye - as he juggled the dangers posed by British airmen, the French resistance and Nazi occupiers.

The humour stemmed from innuendo and mockery of national stereotypes and accents, and in 2021 Britbox warned modern audiences about the supposedly dated content of the decades-old programme, with a note stating: “This classic comedy contains language and attitudes of the time that may offend some viewers.”

BritBox explained at the time that certain classic programmes required advice on the “potentially sensitive language or attitudes of their era”.

Contemporary TV is more offensive

But Michelle argued that contemporary television is far more offensive than the comedy now deemed worthy content warnings, telling the Daily Mirror: “People eff, blind and use the c-word on telly and that’s considered fine.

“And on reality TV people make love under a sheet, and that’s fine. There was none of that in ‘Allo ‘Allo!. I don’t think there’s anything in there that would upset a normal person.

She added: “‘Allo ‘Allo! didn’t send up anyone in particular – we sent up everyone.

“It was a family show where the adults got the double entendres and the children just thought the situations were funny. You can see someone on telly in a bikini and their boobs out.”

Vicki Michelle believes the content in ‘Allo ‘Allo! would not upset 'a normal person'
Vicki Michelle believes the content in ‘Allo ‘Allo! would not upset 'a normal person'

Reality series like Love Island have prompted viewers to make thousands of complaints to Ofcom, including for bad language - one episode featured 77 uses of the f-word - and for its risque content.

In 2016 the show was investigated by Ofcom for showing two contestants, Emma-Jane Woodham and Terry Walsh, having sex in footage broadcast 10 minutes before the 9pm watershed.

Complaints about this incident followed the former Miss Great Britain Zara Holland being stripped of her title after having sex with Alex Bowen on the show in 2016. That year also saw Celebrity Big Brother investigated after 600 complaints were made about an intimate interaction between Marco Pierre White Jr and actress Laura Carter.

The Channel 4 dating show Naked Attraction, which involves potential partners seeing each other nude before making their choice to get to know each other, has also provoked a raft of complaints to Ofcom since it began airing in 2016.

Love Island episodes begin with a brief warning about adult content and sexual scenes.

ITV and Channel 4 have been contacted for comment.