The Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw, has axed a comedy workshop held in Whitemoor Prison, Cambridgeshire, after it emerged that some prisoners taking the course may have cracked a smile or two when they were meant to be suffering the unceasing torments demanded by the righteous vengeance of society.
“Prisons should be places of punishment and reform, and providing educational, training and constructive pursuits is an essential part of this,” he said. “But the types of courses available, and the manner in which they are delivered, must be appropriate in every prison.”
“There is a crucial test,” he continued. “Will the tabloids holler if they get wind of it? In this case the answer is undoubtedly ‘of course they fucking will’ - so, regardless of the fact that comedians working the circuit are not generally known for their heinous criminal activities, this course has been cancelled and will be replaced by a giant, useless treadmill, covered in grease, to which prisoners will be chained for sixteen hours a day. And horsewhipped. Happy now?”
The BBC, meanwhile, has apologised for the comedy series ‘Porridge’, which Mr Straw says gives the false impression that, on occasion, things may take place in the day-to-day activities within a prison which could give rise to an occasional wry smile on the face of a prisoner. DVDs of the series, starring the notorious criminal mastermind Ronnie Barker, have been pulled from retailers’ shelves and destroyed, along with the master tapes.
The BBC says it is working on a new series - provisionally called ‘Gang-Buggered Bastards of Belmarsh‘ - which it hopes will permanently de-glamorise life inside, in the eyes of the viewing public.