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Monday, August 10, 1998 Published at 20:41 GMT 21:41 UK


Festival row over Diana jokes

The death of Princess Diana is this year's irreverent topic at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. BBC Arts correspondent Rosie Millard investigates the controversy.

Real Video : Some of the jokes that have caused concern
By satirising possibly the most sanctified figure in contemporary life comedians hope to get laughs, if only by shocking the audience.

Some people say it is in very bad taste, others however say that it is really the creative sector respecting her and marking her in its way.

Edinburgh city councillor Daphne Sleigh thinks the wider public will be amazed to hear about the fringe's sense of humour.

[ image: Daphne Sleigh : 'I regret the fringe has had to stoop so low']
Daphne Sleigh : 'I regret the fringe has had to stoop so low'
"Unfortunately there are some who will enjoy this type of thing and that's a pity but it is a fact of life, I am afraid and I just regret that the festival fringe has had to stoop this low. "

David Benson's one man show at one of the Fringe's most established venues is a heavily ironic account of the funeral.

He believes pointing up the absurd in real life is the role of comedian.

"I'm trying to say well this is what you saw, but this was what was behind it and that can produce a laugh, because people think, well, I haven't thought of it that way, but I haven't actually dared express it."

[ image: Mica, fringe artist,  expressing himself over Diana]
Mica, fringe artist, expressing himself over Diana
Some of those closely associated with Diana think the creative sector should be allowed freedom of expression.

Lord Deedes, friend of Diana Princess of Wales, said: "A lot of people have different views about Diana and how they wish to express them in a free country is up to them."

[ image: Jeff Green : 'Comedy is tragedy plus time']
Jeff Green : 'Comedy is tragedy plus time'
Stand-up comedian Jeff Green says having a pop at Diana was just a matter of time.

"Comedy is tragedy plus time. We can maybe do jokes about the Battle of Hastings, but it would have been awful at that time. But a well crafted joke, is a well crafted joke."

Jenny Eclair, Veteran comedian on Diana jokes : 'I don't think people laugh if it is just shocking'
The National Theare of Brent has a comic play opening in Edinburgh this week which looks at the mythology of the Charles and Diana saga.

Patrick Barlow who plays Charles says a year after Diana's death laughs are perhaps just what we need.

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