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Peter Kay under fire for ‘trans bashing’ joke during ad-libbed comedy show

Jess Glass May 9, 2018

(Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

Comedian Peter Kay has sparked a backlash after an episode of Peter Kay’s Car Share featured a joke that many people are calling transphobic.

The comedy series starring Kay and fellow comedian Sian Gibson returned to BBC One on Monday in preparation for its series finale later in May.

Unlike other episodes of the popular show, this episode was entirely improvised by Kay and Gibson.

In character, the two comedians are listening to a letter being read out on the radio.

(BBC One)

In the letter, a woman complains that her partner liked to dress up in women’s clothes, and recently admitted to being a “closet transexual.”

The joke continues to say that the caller’s spouse was attacked by “a gang of lads” but ended up in a coma as Gordon “couldn’t outrun them in his high heels.”

After this is read out, Gibson’s character states: “It’s what happens… I’d have pulled the [life support] tubes out.”

As the sketch ends, the Bee Gees song “More Than a Woman” is played.

(BBC One)

Many people have taken to social media to condemn the show and the BBC for broadcasting it.

Some viewers highlighted that many trans people experience high rates of violence and discrimination, and that sketches like this make light of this.

(@DarcieSilver / Twitter)

One viewer wrote: “I’m just so sad about this. We have a shit hand in life. No one would choose this. Leave us alone.”

Others highlighted that similar jokes would not be made about other minorities in society.

(@Twosidesofacoin / Twitter)

“Peter Kay’s Car Share demonstrates it is OK to make a joke about a trans person being beaten up. It is so lazy to keep using cheap gags at the expense of trans people,” another viewer wrote.

“Would a joke about a wheelchair user or person of colour or gay person be tolerated? No.”

Some disappointed viewers called the comedy “trans bashing.”

(@jackalanwells / Twitter)

“Don’t like how Peter Kay is speaking about transgender people on his Peter Kay Car Share. BBC One should be ashamed to even let this trans bashing air.”

However, some viewers expressed their enjoyment of the improvised programme, with some hitting out at those who had complained.

(@SMcK723 / Twitter)

One wrote: “Bloody PC brigade strikes again!! It’s a joke, nothing more, nothing less. People really do need to stop taking life so seriously.”

Related: Ricky Gervais is so achingly desperate to offend trans people in new Netflix special that he didn’t bother with much comedy

In 2017, the BBC sparked a debate with the return of a controversial show which many labelled as ‘mean spirited transphobia.’

The return of ’90s sitcom The League of Gentlemen used many stereotypes about transgender women, including lingering shots of Barbara’s body hair and large hands.

Mark Gatiss, one of the creators of the show, defended the comedy and said: “Some of the wilder extremities of gender politics create a kind of madness where almost nothing is capable of being said anymore.

“I think that’s still an area where there is room to have a laugh.”

In 2016, Peter Kay caused controversy after making a ‘homophobic’ joke about television personality Judge Rinder on Strictly Come Dancing.

During the skit, Kay pretended the gay judge had groped him and shouted, “Hey, steady!”

(BBC One)

He continued, “Watch it, my lad, watch it my lad! This case is firmly closed,” whilst pointing at his backside.

The sketch had the audience, contestants and Judge Rinder himself laughing but many viewers complained that the joke implied gay men are predators.

Watch the clip below:

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