Ricky Gervais has entered the debate surrounding Roald Dahl’s books for children, which have been edited to remove words like “fat” and “ugly” in their most recent versions.
The comedian took to Twitter to muse on how he should change his own routines for the benefit of the “fragile” and “easily offended.”
In an expletive-laden post, he wrote:
“This is me pondering whether they’ll change any of the words I’ve used in my work after I’m dead, to spare those who are fragile and easily offended.
“Words like ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’. And ‘c***’ and ‘f**k’. And ‘fat, ugly, greedy, pathetic little stupid f**king c***’. Stuff like that.’
One Twitter follower replied that Gervais’s sketches aren’t aimed at children, claiming it can be hard to explain ‘hurtful’ words to children.
Gervais replied: “Yeah I know […]. It was a joke.”
In another tweet, he shared a picture of himself pulling an unflattering face and revealing his belly, as he wrote: “I’ve changed my mind. I think we should ban the words ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’. No reason.”
Gervais’s comments follow a week of furious debate after Dahl’s classic books, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, were known to be amended for the children’s audience of 2023. Augustus Gloop will no longer be “fat” but “enormous” and the Oompa-Loompas will be gender-neutral.
On Friday, the publishers Puffin announced the release of the Roald Dahl Classic Collection “to keep the author’s classic texts in print” claiming they had “listened to the debate.”
The commentary in the British press has been widespread, with even Queen Camilla speaking on the subject at a reception for writers on Thursday. Making her opinion clearly felt, she told her audience:
“Please remain true to your calling, unimpeded by those who may wish to curb the freedom of your expression or impose limits on your imagination.” And she added off the cuff: “Enough said.”