Snow White in Panto 2003

Topical it may have been, but a Devon village pantomime entitled Snow White and the Seven Asylum Seekers has triggered a row about alleged racism and alleged free speech.

As the season of goodwill approaches, the small community of Merton, near Okehampton, has been divided by a decision to ban the production unless its title is changed.

Half the cast have resigned in protest, rehearsals have been suspended, and the local author, Bob Harrod, has pulled out, blaming political correctness.

The seven asylum seekers all have the name Ali: Chemical Ali, Comical Ali, Back Ali, Dark Ali, Bowling Ali, Ali G, and Ali-Kiss-Angel.

In the pantomime they work illegally at a quarry near Merton and live in "grotty" conditions in a cottage in the woods, where they are portrayed as living off baked beans and never bathing.

Anxious about the show, the village hall's management committee took advice from the Commission for Racial Equality, the Devon and Exeter Racial Equality Council, and the Community Council for Devon.

Last week, although the village hall committee had not officially seen the script, it asked Mr Harrod to change his title.

"We were not happy with the title, as family entertainment, because it was racially insensitive," explained Tim Horner, chairman.

"We are a registered charity and we have to act as a public body. People could understand the quandary we were in." He added that he understood that half the cast had resigned.

The advice received from race relations bodies did not suggest the title was illegal, but it warned that as a charitable body the committee "had a duty to act in an inclusive and non-discriminatory way".

In the pantomime, the Queen orders Snow White to be executed but she escapes into the woods. There she is taken in by the asylum seekers, whose home she cleans up.

The Queen finds her and tries to kill her with a poisoned apple. In the final scene she is revived by a kiss from Prince Charles, who turns up at her funeral after being dumped by Camilla.

Mr Harrod, 55, introduced pantomimes to the village - population 200 - when he moved to Devon five years ago. They have raised around £5,000 for the village hall, church and local charities.

His comedies exploit controversial topics; in past years it was hunting, and foot and mouth disease.

He maintains that his Snow White is more an attack on the government than on asylum seekers, and that he is sympathetic to their plight.

"The people doing the complaining have not even seen the script," he said yesterday. "I'm not changing the title. If you changed the title you would have to change the play.

"There's nothing racist in the pantomime. If we are taking the mickey out of anyone, it's the government.

"The play shows the asylum seekers living in grotty conditions. They work and claim DSS money, which what a lot of people do."

Courtesy of the guardian. Give the writer of the play a medal I say :lol:

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Typical of the PC brigade I'm afraid. They've seen the title, decided it was offensive and decided to ban it without even bothering to ask for a copy of the script.

These people just fcuk me off!!!!
Sounds like they've put the brakes on a well thought out, topical and possibly very funny version of an old pantomime.

Mind you, do you think that they'd be able to put on a show of the original/traditional version if it was first written today? I'd have though taking the mick out of seven men of short stature would be a no-go for todays PC brigade.

Found this, the stuffy gits gave in !!
New venue for 'racist panto'

The show will go on for a Devon village pantomime about asylum seekers banned because of concerns about racism, it has emerged.

The panto `Snow White and the Seven Asylum Seekers' includes one character called Chemical Ali.

It was due to be performed at the village hall in Merton, near Great Torrington, Devon, in January but was called off following advice from the Devon and Exeter Racial Equality Council, the Community Council and the Commission for Racial Equality.

The Langtree Parish Hall Committee has now agreed to host the pantomime.

Committee member Terry Attridge said: `We think the pantomime is in the best tradition of light-hearted fun and knock-about humour and don't consider it to be racist. We look forward to everybody coming along and judging for themselves in January,' he said.

The panto's writer and producer, 55-year-old Bob Harrod said he was `delighted' the show would go ahead.

`There is nothing in the play that is racist and the only changes to the script will be made to link it with Langtree rather than Merton,' he said.

The play will be performed in Langtree, around 10 miles from Merton, on January 23 and 24
How much does the CRE, the Devon and Exeter thingy and the Community thingy cost the good taxpayers of Devon. Is it worth giving them all foot and mouth and then setting the local hunt onto them.
.....or flying in the real Comical Ali and letting him pronounce on their good judgement...
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