Last year saw the death of the comedian Caroline Aherne. Unusually, and unlike almost all female comedians on the BBC today, Aherne wasn’t a token quota female, but actually a funny and talented woman. Unfortunately, she was also a perpetrator of domestic violence against her former husband Peter Hook.
The misandrist BBC loves to publicise any allegations of abuse made by women against men, often placing unproven and even dubious cases on its front page and typically taking the “believe the victim” standpoint rather than remaining impartial.
Aherne’s abuse of her husband Peter Hook was clearly notable, not merely becasue of her fame but his too. As co-founder of English rock bands Joy Division and New Order his significance as a public figure matches hers, and he openly discussed her violence and abuse in his memoirs. He wrote:
“She attacked me, using her nails to scratch at my neck, tearing off my necklace and ripping my top.”
“And although she was really contrite the next morning it marked the beginning of some serious screaming-banshee behaviour – putting cigarettes out on my arm, attacking me with bottles, knives, chairs and other assorted furniture.”
Hook also notes an assault on him by Aherne in public at the British Comedy awards witnessed by 30 other people, and another of her partners, David Walliams also confirmed her abusive side in his autobiography. Furthermore, Hook is known for his straight-talking and a number of his other supposedly controversial claims such as Aherne’s alcoholism are also known to be true.
So, how did the BBC report on domestic violence by not only a famous female comedian, but one who spent almost all her comedy career on its channels? Searching the BBC site comes up with countless tributes to Aherne yet just one single result mentioning her attacks on her partner. There’s no news article to be found anywhere, the sole result is a short clip selected from a Radio Five Live interview of Hook on the topic.
In the short clip Hook, a victim of abuse, is grilled by BBC presenter Nihal Arthanyake who reads out criticism by Aherne’s family of Hook having published the book shortly after Aherne’s death. Such criticism was unfair as Hook had written most of the content while Aherne was still alive. The BBC clips begins with Arthanyake “quoting” another BBC comedian, Ricky Tomlinson:
“What sort of a man would make these claims after the death of Caroline, is this because she’s to here to defend herself, why did it take Hook twenty years to make these claims”.
Hook defends himself eloquently, yet the presenter continues his attack, this time not quoting anyone but in his own words:
“When you sat down to write this book, you knew that people would focus in on this…..You could have taken that out if you’d wanted to….she’s not alive to defend herself”.
Hook’s responses are all fantastic, but the conduct of the BBC presenters is most disturbing and sexist, particularly when you consider how things would differ were they interviewing a female victim of domestic violence. It’s not simply the constant attacks from which Hook has to defend himself, but there’s also a great deal missing. There’s not the slightest bit of sympathy from either presenter let alone any praise for Hooks’ bravery in finally speaking out. There’s no condemnation of the abuse and violence, no recognition of the vast numbers of male victims in society and the discrimination they face, nor any advice for other male victims. Instead, its just attack after attack followed by shaming tactics and demands that men do not speak about being abused by violent women.
Of course this is merely a clip and not the complete exchange, but its a clip deliberately selected by the BBC as their preferred part of the interview and now their sole lasting coverage of the matter seeing as the full episode is no longer online.
In addition to their attempted cover-up of her violence, the BBC has chosen to pay tribute to domestic abuser Aherne by launching a bursary for comedians on the north of England. The scheme awards “£5000 to the successful applicant to enable them to fund future development, alongside the guidance of an experienced BBC commissioning editor.”
The sexism of the BBC continues further still, not happy with honouring a defending an female abuser, they insist that recipients of the award in question are female too, and the full title of the award is “The Caroline Aherne Bursary for Funny Northern Women”.
Thankfully, things don’t seem to be going to well for this sexist abuser-honouring award, and the BBC was forced to extend the decline for applications. Whoever would have imagined that eliminating 95% of the talent pool would have an negative impact on the quality of applicants?
The good news is that we’ve taken a look at the full terms and conditions for the award, and the actual sex discrimination isn’t listed as a rule – we’re not sure if this is merely the BBC actually obeying equality laws or if its simply to allow transgender applicants, but either way its at least a small consolation in an otherwise terrible scheme.
Aherne obviously received special treatment when it came to her domestic violence and this continues to this day. However, it was not the case in her comedy work and her successes on screen came on merit and well before the BBC forced shows to use sexist quotas and and the inevitable resulting sub-standard “talent”. Creating a sexist award is bad enough, though they compound such sexism further still be honouring an abuser of men. It’s sexism on top of more sexism. At the very least the BBC needs to come clean and report fully and honestly on all aspects of Aherne’s life instead of doing more damage for male victims of abuse by trying to silence male victims and cover-up female abusers.