Comedy Sketch with Rowan Atkinson Playing an Archbishop Causes Controversy

What happens when Rowan Atkinson (a.k.a. Mr. Bean) becomes Archbishop of Canterbury?

Only awesome things. (None of which have to do with prayer.)

Jesus said love your neighbour — and let’s be perfectly clear, because there’s a lot of misunderstanding about this, he doesn’t mean shag your neighbour. He hates that. Absolutely hates it. Though as I say, he doesn’t mind the word shagging, he’s got a terrific sense of humour. He doesn’t like the f-word that describes the same thing. He thinks that’s very rude.

Anyway, I hope I’ll be able to talk to you more often like this but for now, from all of us in the good old C of E, have a wonderful night, keep on giving, keep on laughing, keep on praying – it doesn’t work, but it’s a good part of a getting-to-sleep routine if you’ve got insomnia.

Awesome :)

That clip, which aired on the BBC this past Friday for Comic Relief, somehow sparked thousands of complaints:

Atkinson also told viewers: ‘Jesus said love your neighbours, but it doesn’t mean s**g your neighbours.’

The corporation said that around a quarter of complaints received about the sketch were in relation to the religious context – while the others were more concerned about the language.

They have since removed it from the Comic Relief coverage still available on the BBC iPlayer.

Ridiculous. The Catholic Church itself is far more offensive than this sketch.

Hayley Stevens at The Heresy Club echoes that sentiment:

The idea that Christianity should be respected in the United Kingdom and exempt from criticism and mockery is kind of sweet, yet extremely misguided and ridiculous because just as those 2,000+ people who complained to the BBC have the right to feel offended by what Atkinson said while pretending to be Archbishop, Atkinson, and everyone else for that matter, has a right to be offensive. In fact, I don’t think Atkinson was as offensive as he could have been had he wanted to. There’s so much potential when it comes to mocking the Church of England!

Seriously, if you think *that’s* offensive, you ain’t seen nothing yet. (Atkinson once played a vicar in a way more hilariously offensive sketch. And there was also that time he offered the Church’s Guide to Fellatio.)

Incidentally, there’s a Facebook group (created before this sketch aired) calling for Atkinson to actually become the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • PietPuk

    “This video has been removed by the user.”

  • Bender
  • Dave

    Also removed. The BBC really don’t want anyone else offended.

    I think the real reason behind the complaints is that this was on at 7.45 local time and the christians don’t like anyone interfering with the indoctrination programs they run on their kids.

  • Henriette Wesselman

    Christ ahorse, so much for free speech.

  • Ewan

    ” The Catholic Church itself is far more offensive”

    Wrong church. The Church of England is much less offensive.

  • Justin

    It works fine for me. Maybe region blocked?

    Rowan Atkinson’s still got it. He’s utterly hilarious.

  • Brian Westley

    Cake or death?

  • MD

    Row an Atkinson is an absolute genius. His sketch where he played the devil was hilarious.

  • RedGreenInBlue

    And I thought *I* had a thin skin! If Rowan Atkinson had done an equivalent sketch about their favourite politician,* they’d probably be laughing along with the rest of us. The longer I live and the more I see of my compatriots the English, the more depressed I become about our country’s future :-(

    * e.g. David Cameron: “And these tax cuts for the rich will benefit everyone, in the same way that a rising tide lifts all boats – well actually that’s bollocks, but we seem to get better election results with soundbites and clichés than with well-thought-out policies.”

  • Kevin Devine

    Awesome video, Atkinson can play low-key humour or over the top when he needs…

  • Jas Gill

    Been taken down again lol, Censorship!!

  • K C PDX

    Absolutely nothing offensive about that clip.

  • GloomCookie613

    Cake please.

  • Miss_Beara

    That was about as offensive as the signs that only said Atheist. Which is not at all. It was funny though. I love Rowan Atkinson.

  • Miss_Beara

    Works for me too.

  • Dave

    It’s only blocked to users from the UK it seems (i.e. the people who pay for the BBC).

  • chicago dyke

    i find Eco a tedious read, but i will always love him for “the name of the rose” in which he identifies the most powerful weapon against religious ignorance and hatred: laughter.

    boy they can’t stand that. we mock them, and their panties get so bunched you need a jackhammer to unbunch them. sorry to see this is being censored, but then again, it’s not unexpected. the religious love to play martyr, oppressed hero, etc., but what they cannot abide is to be mocked. more like this, please.

  • Michael

    I was tempted to write a complaint about it being removed from iplayer, see if I got a response.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    What was offensive about the language used?

  • Rain

    I never really “got” Rowan Atkinson. He’s just totally off of my radar. He’s so far off the radar that I actually thought his name was “Romain Atwertstein”. I never knew his real name. I just never paid much attention.

  • MD

    Death. On, no, I meant cake!

  • kmob3

    Most of the complaints were about the language used, in particular the word ‘shag’. ‘Shag’ does not seem that strong to me but people have different responses to words and apparently many people thought that was a word that should not be said before the watershed, when children might be listening.

    As for the other complaints I was really puzzled because the sketch is very mild compared to plenty of anti-religious stuff that appears on television. But it occurs to me that people may have seen it as a personal attack on the new Archbishop. I doubt if that was what Atkinson meant but it would explain the complaints.

  • freethinkerCRO

    Some don’t like the word “shag” – a slang term for sexual intercourse (chiefly British). Some of my English friends were amused when I told them that in baseball, an outfielder practicing catching fly balls is called “shagging flies”.

  • willy occam

    Frankly, I’m surprised the religious nuts weren’t more offended by the line:

    “…keep on praying; it doesn’t work, but is a good part of a getting-to-sleep routine if you’ve got insomnia.”

    I thought that was a more direct hit on religion than the shagging reference.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    Well, I know what “shag” is slang for, but there is worse slang than shag.

  • Sandy Kokch

    GB has a long and well respected tradition of mocking religion – look up Dave Allen for example (Irish but most beloved by Brit audiences). Then there is the hilarious comedy series Father Ted again Irish but most loved in the UK) from which I take my “avatar”.

    The BBC has been getting increasingly influenced by religulous fat heads – something that has been picked up on and slated by the rest of the UK media. It changes as the head staff change. The current directorial boards need an enema.

  • Daniel Schealler

    Title should be:

    Comedy Sketch with Rowan Atkinson Playing an Archbishop (again) Causes Controversy