Nish Kumar has reflected on the cancellation of his topical comedy news show The Mash Report, calling for the BBC to give a clear reason for the move.
The Mash Report was cancelled in March last year, a fortnight after the BBC’s new director-general Tim Davie made a speech about his aims to represent a wider range of viewpoints.
The BBC said in a statement at the time: “We are very proud of The Mash Report but in order to make room for new comedy shows we sometimes have to make difficult decisions and it won’t be returning. We would like to thank all those involved in four brilliant series and hope to work with Nish Kumar, Rachel Parris and the team in the future.”
In a new interview with The Observer Magazine, comedian and presenter Kumar said he believes the suggestion that his show was axed to appease Conservative critics should be challenged, arguing that the BBC must debunk the “useful myth” that it has cracked down on left-wing comedy.
“The concern for me is that it’s a useful myth for Tim Davie to have out there, because it placates the British right. It gives the sharks a bit of blood,” he said.
BBC Two’s The Mash Report had been criticised by rightwing media commentators for its takedowns of the government.
“If the BBC does not say something publicly to make it clear they were not reacting to the political content of the show, it will set a bad precedent,” Kumar added. “It may well stop people pitching new programme ideas. It is not about any reassurance they may have privately given me since.”
He continued: “There’s an important principle at stake. The story suggests a person’s political leanings can have a bearing on what they get to do on television, which is unacceptable.”
The Independent has contacted the BBC for further comment.