BBC Rejects Claims It Has Banned Sacha Baron Cohen’s 'Dictator' From Its Airwaves
LONDON -- A BBC spokesman described comments by Sacha Baron Cohen's Admiral General Aladeen that the character has been banned from BBC TV as “tongue in cheek.”
The comic actor's latest creation, who hails from the fictitious Republic of Wadiya in the Middle East, is in the midst of a heavy-duty schedule of appearances ahead of the opening of The Dictator, rolling out globally by Paramount starting this month.
Media reports carried the story that Aladeen had been banned from plugging the film on a slew of BBC shows including high-profile talker The Graham Norton Show, magazine The One Show and news and political shows Newsnight and The Andrew Marr Show as well as Radio 1 and Radio 4 output.
The BBC, pointing out it all seemed “tongue in cheek,” said it would rather have Baron Cohen on shows as himself.
“Our chat shows thrive on the spontaneous banter between guests and the presenter, something you don’t get when people come on as a character,” a spokesman said. "We’d love to have Sacha on as himself."
The funnyman’s character told The Sun newspaper in the U.K. that while he is a “huge admirer of state-sponsored censorship, the BBC banning me from their meager channels is an outrage.”
Baron Cohen’s latest controversial comedy character appeared on Australia’s Today morning breakfast show this week and littered his live appearance with jokes “of a sexual nature,” causing the show’s trio of presenters several moments of hilarity -- albeit uneasy -- laughter.
During Aladeen’s on-air interview on the Australian show, he referenced the sinking of the Titanic as being down to Israel, claimed Mel Gibson was now his country’s department of race relations chief and a board member of Wadiya’s “museum of intolerance” and volunteered the opinion that Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard had a sex change to become a woman.
“I know what you are thinking," Aladeen said. "Why have me on? Execute the producer, I think.”
It follows Aladeen's infamous stunt on the red carpet at this year’s Academy Awards, which saw him pour what he said were the ashes of former North Korea leader Kim Jong-il over TV host Ryan Seacrest.