Rufus Hound and why comedians, not politicans, are echoing the unease of silent majority - Anthony Clavane

It has come to a pretty pass when it is left to a light entertainment celebrity to highlight the plight of our hungry children.
Rufus Hound’s comments inadvertently caused such a stir this week. (PA).Rufus Hound’s comments inadvertently caused such a stir this week. (PA).
Rufus Hound’s comments inadvertently caused such a stir this week. (PA).

I am referring, of course, to the 41-year-old comedian Rufus Hound who last Sunday, live on air, slammed the Government over the recent free school meals scandal.

Not on The Andrew Marr Show, Peston or Question Time. But on the ITV reality show Dancing On Ice.

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Whatever next? Will Denise Van Outen have a pop at the Government’s handling of the pandemic? Will Rebekah Vardy give Phillip Schofield her take on Donald Trump’s post-truth legacy in American politics? Will Tom Jones claim to be friends with the new US president Joe Biden on The Voice?

Unlike Tom’s name-dropping, you would think these scenarios would be pretty unusual. Light entertainment celebrities and political statements are not supposed to go together.

Which is why, I suppose, Hound’s comments caused such a stir.

To recap, the man with the twirly moustache was asked by Phillip Schofield during the Dancing On Ice launch show if he would have ever imagined being awarded the first Golden Ticket of the series.

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“Mate,” replied a clearly emotional Hound, “we live in a world where the people we elect don’t want to feed hungry children. So, this is the least mad thing that’s happened to me in a long time.”

Cue uproar in some tabloids and the easily-triggered parts of Twitter. The Sun roared: “Dancing On Ice’s Rufus Hound blasted for ‘making show political’ as he slams UK government for ‘not feeding hungry kids.’”

Outraged viewers tweeted things like “can we not just watch light entertainment without politics”, “sick to death of all the political remarks… what an idiot” and “can’t entertainers stick to entertaining for just five minutes?”

I’m not sure that light entertainment has become, as these posts suggest, a hotbed of woke Leftism. Holly Willoughby has not suddenly turned

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into Frankie Boyle. And it would be wrong to suggest that these tweets reflect a growing national discomfort with such outbursts.

In fact, I would argue that the outbursts actually reflect a growing national discomfort with the craziness of our times and the madness of our leaders’ actions.

When Hound admitted he’d “spent most of this year not being terribly emotionally stable because the world stopped making sense” the immortal line from Network came to mind: “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more.”

In many ways, he is already emerging as 2021’s answer to 2020’s Strictly Come Dancing winner Bill Bailey.

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Like Bill, Rufus is a bearded, middle-aged comedian who is defying the odds on a dance show and, at the same time, bringing a bit of fun and joy to this beleaguered island.

Hopefully, he will lift the Sunday night lockdown gloom the way Bailey lifted the Saturday night lockdown gloom last December.

I clearly remember how, on his triumphant night, the Never Mind The Buzzcocks star spoke for the nation – just before becoming the oldest celebrity to lift the glitterball trophy.

Responding to Claudia Winkleman’s observation that The Show Must Go On routine was a rally call, he said: “Yeah. And now, with what we’ve found out with the restrictions, it’s going to be harder, people are going to be isolated at Christmas. This is not just a song about the arts… this is an anthem about not giving up, keeping hope and getting through this.”

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Whether it’s Sacha Baron Cohen undermining Trump – in his new Borat film Donald’s personal attorney, Rudi Giuliani, is caught on camera in an embarrassing scene with an actress posing as a journalist – or Matt Lucas sending up Boris Johnson on The Great British Bake Off, it is increasingly being left to comedians, rather than politicians, to echo the anxieties, disquiet and general unease of the silent majority.

I suspect Hound’s dig at the Government for providing inadequate amounts of food to hungry children will have met the approval of the vast majority of Dancing on Ice viewers.

Still, it shouldn’t be up to a light entertainment celebrity to call the Prime Minister to account on such scandals.

It should be up to the Leader of the Opposition. Also known as Marcus Rashford.

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