BBC chiefs blocked plans to bring coughing Bob Fleming back to The Fast Show


BBC chiefs have blocked plans to bring back Bob Fleming’s cough from The Fast Show… over fears his affliction could offend Covid sufferers

Unhappy, cough-prone broadcaster Bob Fleming was one of the most popular characters in the 1990s comedy The Fast Show.

But last year the BBC blocked plans to bring him back for a one-off special, fearing his affliction would offend people with Covid.

Comedian Charlie Higson recreated his role as Fleming for last year’s Christmas special Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing – the hit angling show presented by his former Fast Show co-star Paul Whitehouse and Bob Mortimer. In the sketch, the genius Fleming stumbles upon the couple while they’re fishing on a riverbank – and, of course, he can’t stop coughing.

Higson, also a best-selling novelist, revealed in an interview at Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate how the scene was ‘cut’ from the show by the BBC due to sensitivities over Covid. A production source said last night: “A decision has been made to scrap the sketch. It’s important to remember that Covid was really rampant at the time.

Unhappy, cough-prone broadcaster Bob Fleming was one of the most popular characters in the 1990s comedy The Fast Show.

“Many viewers would have found the sight of a persistently coughing man distasteful and upsetting.

“As a result, the production company and the BBC have decided not to proceed with the sketch.

“It was very disappointing because the entire production was thrilled to have Charlie Higson join them on location. But under the circumstances, it was the right decision.

Fleming, from Norfolk, was one of The Fast Show’s most recognizable characters as he tried to host his Country Matters program through coughing fits.

Speaking on the decision, Steve Bennett, editor of comedy news website Chortle, said: ‘I’m sure more people would have liked to see Bob Fleming than they would have been upset by anyone. coughing on TV.

A patient is seen above in hospital.  A production source said last night: ¿A decision has been made to drop the sketch.  It's important to remember that Covid was really rampant at the time'

A patient is seen above in hospital. A production source said last night: ‘A decision has been made to scrap the sketch. It’s important to remember that Covid was really rampant at the time’

‘I wonder if the BBC will now ban Tony Hancock’s blood donor sketch for fear of offending haemophiliacs, Only Fools And Horses in case viewers hurt themselves falling through bars, or Monty Python’s Flying Circus to avoid upsetting anyone who might mourn the death of their emotional support parrot.

Dame Maureen Lipman, one of the country’s most beloved comedy stars, joked: “I think they should ban Bake Off and MasterChef because it’s offensive to people who have lost their sense of taste because of of Covid.”

But best-selling novelist Kathy Lette said: ‘After Covid, does anyone find coughing so funny? Granted, we’ve all had enough coughs for a lifetime.

The BBC declined to comment last night, while Whitehouse, Mortimer and Higson were unavailable.

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