Oh, Golly!

Hear we go again. The BBC has fired presenter Carol Thatcher for referring to a tennis player as a ‘golliwog’.

Apparently, the remark was made ‘off-air’, but other presenters took exception and reported her for the comment.

I guess the first lesson is: make sure you know who your friends are.

So far as I’m concerned the Thatcher family are all a bunch of ignorant snobs (Carol is the daughter of Margaret, once prime minister of the UK) but I’m not sure this isn’t carrying political correctness to extremes.

Is it more likely, perhaps, the other presenters found Ms Thatcher intolerable, and seized the opportunity to drop her in it?

The Associated Press explains, in its article on the subject, that:

The word “golliwog,” referring to a black doll-like character, was once widely used including as the emblem of a leading make of British jam, but in recent decades has been dropped after claims it was racist.”[1]

I fondly remember, as a small child, the cuddly toy golliwog I carried with me everywhere. I loved it. I also avidly collected all the Robertson’s jam golliwogs, and was the first in our street to have a full set.


I guess that stamps me as a racist. Now, I’ll never work for the BBC.

As a postscript, one of Britain’s most distinguished peers and politicians, Lord Tebbit, commented:

It does seem very odd that Jonathan Ross[2] can be back broadcasting having made obscene, insulting remarks on the air, and Carol Thatcher, who said something which is allegedly highly offensive but which I rather doubt was meant to be so, in private, should be banned in this way.

“It is probably a bit of a way for the BBC to get back at Carol’s mother.”[3]

Which adds absolutely nothing to the narrative, but does serve to demonstrate the standard of British nobility sitting in the Upper House of the British Parliament.

[1] “BBC drops Carol Thatcher over ‘golliwog’ remark” AFP, February 3rd 2009

[2] “Russell Brand resigns from BBC as Jonathan Ross apologises for ‘juvenile remarks'” Guardian, October 29th 2008

[3] “Golliwog remark gets Carol in a jam” ITV, February 4th 2009

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4 Replies to “Oh, Golly!”

  1. Back in the mists of time, I loved my golliwog too, RJ. 🙂 I had a black doll as well, loved it also. Why wouldn’t we? We loved ’em, but would we ever, ever, ever think of referring to someone as a golliwog?
    I know I wouldn’t, and neither, I suspect would you.

    I’m with the BBC on this – they should have sacked J. Ross too. Schoolyard mentality(and that is what all of this is)should have no place in public broadcasting. ;-(

  2. I had a rag-doll golliwog as a child (still have it somewhere) that was made for me by my grandmother. He was a partner with my red-headed, white, “Rageddy Anny” – I never saw any problem with this at all.

    However, I would never use it as a term to describe anyone, as I know that it is also a very offensive term now.

    And, yes, I think that Jonathan Ross should have been fired, too, but then I also think that he is an insufferable oik anyway 😉

  3. Twilight – no, you’re right, I wouldn’t, and no way was I defending Carol Thatcher, of course. I just find it sad that such once-innocent items as kids’ dolls are now considered unacceptable. Somehow, it seems very wrong. Surely, it should all be about intention, and the only intention of a kid with a golliwog was to love it. I think both of us would defend the right of a child to do that.

    Jo – I can only reiterate what was written in response to Twilight. And, yes, I agree, Ross should have been fired.

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