I SHOULD have known I was tempting fate when I wrote a nostalgic blog in March praising the Beano.
In a woeful concession to wokeness, it’s been announced that one of the comic’s favourite characters – Fatty of The Bash Street Kids – will no longer be called Fatty.
Instead, the calorifically-challenged schoolboy is to be called Freddy, or Frederick, Brown – which is apparently his proper name.
The reason for phasing out ‘Fatty’, according to the Telegraph, is ‘to stop children using the name as an insult for overweight peers’. I think they mean the overweight peers of young readers, not corpulent members of the House of Lords. But I digress.
Mike Stirling, editorial director of Beano Studios, says he has recently received a number of letters asking why Frederick Brown was called Fatty. (Possibly because he’s fat?)
He added: ‘Kids come in all shapes and sizes, and we absolutely celebrate that. We don’t want to risk someone using it in a mean way. The time is right to revert back to Freddy. Although it’s always been used affectionately, and never pejoratively, we agreed it’s time it changed.’
Arrgh! There’s that word again – ‘celebrate’. Now we all know we’ve got to ‘celebrate’ everything these days, especially diversity, inclusiveness, BLM, XR, LBGTQ, etc. But why ‘celebrate’ a fat child, even if only in the form of a cartoon?
To me, there’s more than a hint of hypocrisy about all this. Like it or not, Fatty was only ever in the comic as a figure of fun because he was fat. The Beano was first published in 1938 and The Bash Street Kids started in 1954 under its original title When the Bell Rings.
This was Britain BC – Before Correctness. There weren’t many fat kids around and any who were overweight inevitably became an object of attention, often mocking or abusive. It was unfair, but that was the reality and it was reflected in the creation of characters such as Fatty.
If the Beano bosses really want to stop Fatty being seen as fat, changing his name isn’t going to help. They still show him with his belly bulging out of his jumper as he wolfs a gigantic slice of cake. His motto is ‘Everything is delicious!’ And his prized possession is an apron signed by Mary Berry.
I just hope no more of the Bash Street Kids get a progressive makeover. But I won’t hold my breath.
I can see daft Smiffy the dunce coming top of the class after remedial lessons, Plug the ugly kid having cosmetic surgery and Winston the janitor’s cat being neutered and microchipped. And can a name change for the school be far off?
Welcome to The Bash Street Academy, rated by Ofsted ‘a Centre of Educational Excellence’.