The decision by British broadcaster, Channel 4, to commission a comedy series about the Irish Famine has “sparked anger” according to Derry City Councillor and former Mayor of Derry, Kevin Campbell.
The Irish Famine, which is known as An Gorta Mór in Irish, happened between 1845 and 1852 and resulted in the deaths of one million people and it is estimated that the population dropped by as much as 25 per cent as a result of death and emigration.
Derry was the largest port of emigration in the Northwest of Ireland during the Famine.
“An Gorta Mór was one of the greatest tragedies experienced in Ireland and its impact can be felt to the present day,” said Colr. Campbell.
Recently, Channel 4 announced that they had commissioned Irish writer, Hugh Travers, to pen a pilot comedy series about a subject of his choice.
Travers’ decision to write a series about the Irish Famine has caused huge controversy and has led to more than 30,000 people to sign a petition on Change.org.
“This decision to commission a so-called comedy series based around the Famine has sparked anger in Ireland and among Irish communities across the world. I have spoken to many people in Derry since this was announced and they are in total disbelief that anyone would contemplate going ahead with this project,” said Colr. Campbell.
Colr. Campbell went on to support those who had signed a petition calling on the broadcaster to reconsider their decision and said the Irish Famine was “hardly an appropriate vehicle for comedy”.
“It has generated severe criticism on social media and petitions have been launched calling on the authorities at Channel 4 to reconsider.
“More than one million people died during the period of the famine and many more were forced to leave Ireland in one of the largest mass emigration movements ever seen. There’s nothing funny about the Irish Famine.
“Such a national tragedy is hardly an appropriate vehicle for comedy, regardless of where or when it happened,” he said.
When contacted by the Derry Journal, a spokesperson for Channel 4 said they had commissioned a series but revealed, that at present, there are no plans to broadcast it.
“We [Channel 4] have commissioned a script set in 19th century Ireland by Dublin-based writer Hugh Travers and Irish-based production company Deadpan Pictures - however this in the development process and is not currently planned to air.”