Posted by Ian
Legend has it that buried deep in a vault in BBC Television Centre is every episode of Have I Got News For You that includes Paul Merton referring to Princess Diana as an "overblown tart."
Will there come a point when it’ll be possible to show them on television again? I hope so. It doesn’t look like being particularly soon, though. The passing of time has an ameliorative effect on most things, but not – as yet – the erstwhile self-appointed Queen Of People’s Hearts. Sanctioned tomfoolery at her expense would probably still, even after all this time, turn too many stomachs as heads for society’s liking.
Why is this? Most people of public standing start to lose their sheen even before they die. Conversely Diana’s reputation appears to have improved steadily since she passed away.
Prior to her death she was commonly perceived to be, variously, a cheat, a gossip, a harlot, an idler, a hussy and a schmoozer. After her demise, however, she quickly became, variously, a saint, a legend, an icon and an inspiration. Some of this is undoubtedly to do with the manner of her passing. But some of it must be to do with our country’s love of a victim, our peculiar fondness for honouring people more in death than in life, and our media’s obsession with every aspect of her being (the same obsession which, arguably, killed her).
When will jokes about Princess Diana become commonplace? In last night’s episode of the sitcom Gavin And Stacey on BBC2, one character was shown comically hissing her disgust that someone dared mention the name of Diana, "that hussy". To see this particular view of Diana lampooned was wonderfully refreshing and a genuinely laugh-out-loud moment. Perhaps that’s the key; the jokes need to be funny, never mind accepted or tolerated, for them to be worth making in the first place.
We’re not doing much on the homepage to mark the 10th anniversary of Diana’s death. There’ll be a link to a special report put together by the News editors, and a message board asking for your memories of where you were when you heard the news that she had died (listening to the news, I’d imagine). But that’s it. No massive tribute to her life and work, no gallery of hundreds of pictures, no detailed recreation of the circumstances of her demise. You can go elsewhere for that. The Daily Express for a start.
Overblown tart or not, Diana hysteria is something we at MSN are trying to opt out of.