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Wednesday 4 December 2019, Rob Lyons

The Life of Brian at 40: are we more easily offended today?

Listen to the debate from the Battle of Ideas festival 2019.

Monty Python’s Life of Brian was released in the UK on 8 November 1979. The film had problems from the start, with its funding withdrawn by EMI films at the last minute, but it was rescued by former Beatle George Harrison putting up the money for it to be made. Forty years later, it would be nice to say that we’re more relaxed about religion and comedy. But in truth, while Christianity is considered fair game (notwithstanding the later controversy over Jerry Springer: The Opera), satirising Islam remains deeply controversial, as illustrated by the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the mealy-mouthed reaction to the killings by many supposedly liberal commentators and artists. Could Brian be made today? Why does it still work today? Have we lost the ability to ridicule the dominant ideas of our society? And have comedians, writers and producers lost their edge for fear of causing offence?

SIMON EVANS
comedian; regular panellist, BBC Radio 4’s The News Quiz

RIA LINA
award winning standup comedian; former forensic IT investigator, Serious Fraud Office; former research scientist, Herpesvirus bioinformatics

ANN MCELHINNEY
director and producer, FrackNation; co-author and co-producer, Gosnell; producer, FBI Lovebirds: UnderCovers; co-host, The Ann and Phelim Scoop

DR JOEL NATHAN ROSEN
associate professor of sociology and anthropology, Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; author, The Erosion of the American Sporting Ethos: shifting attitudes toward competition

ANDY SHAW
co-founder, Comedy Unleashed

CHAIR: ROB LYONS
science and technology director, Academy of Ideas; convenor, AoI Economy Forum

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Battle of Ideas Festival 2019

9:30am, Saturday 2 November 2019, Barbican, Silk Street, London

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