Come on David Abraham, don’t lose your C4 job over a Frankie Boyle joke

St Luke’s founder David Abraham has done a sterling job since taking over from Andy Duncan at UK broadcaster Channel 4 but he’s making a right pig’s ear of the farrago over comedian Frankie Boyle’s joke about celeb Katie Price’s disabled eight year-old son Harvey.

Inter alia Boyle said that Price (aka Jordan) needed a man who was “strong enough to stop Harvey from fucking her.” Well maybe you had to be there.

Abraham and his chairman, former civil service mandarin Lord Burns, were hauled up before the Parliamentary culture, media and sport committee and Abraham not only confirmed that he’d cleared the ‘joke’ in advance (why?) but refused to apologise for it.

The furthest he would go was to say that C4 regretted the incident and would learn from it. Burns apologised, sort of, but that’s not likely to be enough.

You can see why TV execs hate these instances, they say (with some reason) that criticism of such humour is always out of context, just as the BBC did initially with the notorious Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand tormenting of Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs.

You can catch them muttering to themselves at Soho House and other media watering holes that they can’t be expected to apologise publicly every time the Daily Mail takes exception to something.

But Abraham has made two big mistakes. One, he put himself in the position of ‘signing off’ Boyle’s jokes, which should not be the job of a CEO, he has producers to do that.

And once he did he completely failed to realise that he had no option but to apologise.

Now he has a bunch of angry MPs and most of the media on his back for the foreseeable future. Which won’t do Channel 4 any good at all.

Next time he, or more likely someone else at the channel, does something wrong or stupid the outcry will be deafening and he’ll be on his bike.

Abraham needs to call in a sympathetic hack (better, hackette) double quick and say sorry several times over.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.