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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 November, 2004, 14:33 GMT
Comic banned for 'shoot BNP' joke
Jeremy Hardy
Mr Hardy said BNP members should be shot in the back of the head
A council has cancelled a performance by comedian Jeremy Hardy after he said members and supporters of the British National Party (BNP) should be shot.

Burnley Council - which has six BNP councillors - said his comments on the Speaks to the Nation show on BBC Radio 4 on 9 September went too far.

Mr Hardy was due to play at the town's Mechanics Theatre on 30 November.

The council said the show could be "disruptive". The BBC is investigating complaints from the public.

'Made jokes'

A spokesman for Burnley Council said: "We have made a decision that we do not wish to host an appearance by Mr Hardy as part of his current tour.

"On his Speaks to the Nation programme in September he made jokes about supporters and members of the BNP.

"He then went further than that saying they should be shot in the back of the head.

"Our attention was drawn to his comments and as a result, it was decided his show on 30 November should be cancelled."

The spokesman added: "We recognise Mr Hardy's right to voice his sometimes controversial views and the role of satire in his act.

'Political satire'

"However, as a result of his comments, we do not the feel the event will be a night of comedy, and that the performance has the potential to be disruptive."

The council said the decision was not taken on political grounds.

Mr Hardy won the Perrier Award for comedy in 1988 and since has toured as a stand-up, written columns for national newspapers, hosted television and radio programmes and appeared in a film.

A spokesman for Radio 4 said a small number of complaints had been received about the programme and the complaints procedure was under way.

A statement from the station read: "Political satire is, by its nature, provocative and Jeremy Hardy's comment needs to be seen in context.

"In this edition he wasn't inciting anyone to violence, he was lampooning the attitudes of the left and its attempts to rationalise all types of behaviour and views, in this case, those of the BNP.

"However, in doing so, the programme used imagery which crossed the fine line between what is acceptable and what is not and we regret the offence this caused."

Mr Hardy was unavailable for comment.

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