now due to go ahead in a North Devon village. Initially due to be staged in
the village of Merton, the panto was banned (quite rightly) by the local
parish council after taking advice from two race relations watchdogs. That should
have been the end of the matter however performances of the panto have now
been moved to a neighbouring village.
1. It appears that the good folk of Langtree village consider that there is
nothing racist about the panto and they are more than pleased that the event
will be staged in their village instead of Merton. The Langtree villagers must
be a special type of people - they are better equipped to decide if this
panto is racist and clearly have more knowledge and expertise in identifying
racism, than the combined resources of the Devon Race Equality Council and the
Commission for Race Equality. See local and national press reports below fo further information.
2. Clearly, the villagers of Langtree are fully aware of the meaning of
Institutional Racism and how it impacts on communities and people and believe they
have no case to answer. They are obviously content that inaccurately
portraying asylum seekers named Chemical Ali, Comical Ali, Back Ali, Dark Ali,
Bowling Ali, Ali G, and Ali-Kiss-Angel, as dirty unwashed scroungers living in
grotty conditions and claiming DSS money, has nothing to do with racist
stereotyping, dangerous scapegoating or perpetuating hostility towards some of the most
vulnerable in Britain today - but is perfectly acceptable in the name of
'humorous family entertainment'.
3. Will the Langtree villagers be comfortable with the knowledge that the
Nazi BNP in Devon have taken more than an interest in this matter and are
currently using this as a vehicle, both for spreading their agenda of hate in North
Devon and recruiting new members in rural areas, as evidenced on the BNP
4. The Commission for Racial Equality appears to have now 'stuck its head in
the sand' and stated that… "This is a judgment for people on the ground to
make as they are in a position to see what the play contains."
5. The villagers of Langtree and the BNP in Devon are people on the ground -
but do we leave it there? Hundreds of asylum seekers living in Devon, facing
daily hostility including numerous brutal racist attacks are people on the
ground - but do we leave it there? WE are also people on the ground - so do WE
leave it there? - or do WE rise to the challenge and mount OUR campaign to
ensure that this racist panto never sees the light of day in Langtree or any
other village in Devon?
6. If WE do nothing - the panto goes ahead. If WE take action - there's
every chance we can stop this.
1. Register your concern and protest with those that have responsibilities
in this matter. Contact the following and demand that they intervene in this
matter and stop this racist panto.
The local Member of Parliament:
John Burnett MP
Torridge & West Devon Constituency Office
13 St. James Street,
The Community Council of Devon, who are responsible for Village Halls:
Jay Talbot - Chief Executive
Tel: 01392 382532
Peter Harding, Community Services Manager (Village Halls)
Tel: 01392 383345
Langtree Parich Council
Mrs S Hawker
Clerk to Langtree Parish Council
6 Berry Cross
Tel: 01805 601474
Anyone at Langtree Village Hall
Tel: 01805 601602
2. If the above action fails, make preparations to stage daily protest
pickets at Langtree Village Hall. Details to follow if necessary.
Action Against Racism in Devon!
Action to Defend Asylum Seekers in Devon!
Action Against the Nazi BNP in Devon!
NCRM South West
'RACIST' PANTO REPRIEVED
The Guardian - 27 Nov 03
The wicked queen of political correctness has been cast aside so the
panto-going public of Devon can enjoy this year's festive offering. The amateur
production of Snow White and the Seven Asylum Seekers, banned from a village hall
earlier this month amid concerns that it was racist and offensive, has been
given a reprieve.
The show which was due to be staged in Merton, near Okehampton, was axed
after advice from the Commission for Racial Equality and Devon and Exeter Racial
Equality. A spokeswoman for the commission said it was not able to rule on the
merits of the pantomime. "This is a judgment for people on the ground to make
as they are in a position to see what the play contains." But she added that
all public bodies, including parish councils, had a duty to conform to the
Race Relations Amendment Act 2000 and promote positive race relations in
everything they do.
The producer, Bob Harrod, and his cast are moving five miles down the road to
perform the play at the village hall in Langtree. "I am delighted we are
going to be able to put on our panto after all," said Mr Harrod. "I still cannot
understand what the committee in Merton were so worried about in the first
place. "There is nothing in the play that is racist and the only changes we are
making to the script is to replace local references to Merton with one about
Susan Lee, clerk to Langtree parish hall, agreed: "We have looked at the
script and we think it is not in the slightest bit racist, but is in the best
tradition of pantomime." Mr Harrod says his panto is a light-hearted satire
which, if anything, is critical of the government's policy, rather than asylum
In the show, the Wicked Queen orders Snow White to be killed, but she escapes
into the woods. There she is taken in by seven asylum seekers who work
illegally at a nearby quarry.
BANNED 'RACIST' PANTO GETS NEW LEASE OF LIFE
Western Morning News - 26 November 2003
A pantomime which was banned after it was branded racist by a parish
committee will now go ahead in a nearby village. The play, called "Snow White and the
Seven Asylum Seekers" was written by Bob Harrod, of Merton near Okehampton.
Mr Harrod hoped to perform the play at Merton Village Hall but the hall's
committee refused saying they could breach the Race Relations Act if anyone
complained. Now Langtree Village Hall committee have asked Mr Harrod whether he
would like to stage the play for their community.
Last night Mr Harrod said he was "delighted" to have the go ahead by Langtree
but could still not understand what all the fuss was about. "I can't
understand what the village hall committee in Merton were so worried about in the
first place. There is nothing in the play that is racist and the only changes to
the script will be made to link it with Langtree rather that Merton."
Ironically, Mr Harrod and the cast of the play met yesterday in Merton
Village Hall to discuss rehearsals. Mr Harrod, who has written the annual
pantomimes for Merton for the last four years, said the play would take place on
January 23 and 24. "Tickets will probably cost around £5 each. The village hall will
probably make around £500. If Merton don't want the money then Langtree can."
Susan Lee, clerk of Langtree Parish Hall committee, said: "We have reviewed
the script and feel it is in the best tradition of a pantomime and not in the
least bit racist."
QUITE A PANTO OVER SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN ASYLUM SEEKERS
The Guardian - 04 Nov 03
Topical it may have been, but a Devon village pantomime entitled Snow White
and the Seven Asylum Seekers has triggered a row about alleged racism and
alleged free speech. As the season of goodwill approaches, the small community of
Merton, near Okehampton, has been divided by a decision to ban the production
unless its title is changed. Half the cast have resigned in protest,
rehearsals have been suspended, and the local author, Bob Harrod, has pulled out,
blaming political correctness.
The seven asylum seekers all have the name Ali: Chemical Ali, Comical Ali,
Back Ali, Dark Ali, Bowling Ali, Ali G, and Ali-Kiss-Angel. In the pantomime
they work illegally at a quarry near Merton and live in "grotty" conditions in a
cottage in the woods, where they are portrayed as living off baked beans and
never bathing. Anxious about the show, the village hall's management
committee took advice from the Commission for Racial Equality, the Devon and Exeter
Racial Equality Council, and the Community Council for Devon.
Last week, although the village hall committee had not officially seen the
script, it asked Mr Harrod to change his title. "We were not happy with the
title, as family entertainment, because it was racially insensitive," explained
Tim Horner, chairman. "We are a registered charity and we have to act as a
public body. People could understand the quandary we were in." He added that he
understood that half the cast had resigned. The advice received from race
relations bodies did not suggest the title was illegal, but it warned that as a
charitable body the committee "had a duty to act in an inclusive and
In the pantomime, the Queen orders Snow White to be executed but she escapes
into the woods. There she is taken in by the asylum seekers, whose home she
cleans up. The Queen finds her and tries to kill her with a poisoned apple. In
the final scene she is revived by a kiss from Prince Charles, who turns up at
her funeral after being dumped by Camilla.
Mr Harrod, 55, introduced pantomimes to the village - population 200 - when
he moved to Devon five years ago. They have raised around £5,000 for the
village hall, church and local charities.
His comedies exploit controversial topics; in past years it was hunting, and
foot and mouth disease.
He maintains that his Snow White is more an attack on the government than on
asylum seekers, and that he is sympathetic to their plight. "The people doing
the complaining have not even seen the script," he said yesterday. "I'm not
changing the title. If you changed the title you would have to change the play.
"There's nothing racist in the pantomime. If we are taking the mickey out of
anyone, it's the government. "The play shows the asylum seekers living in
grotty conditions. They work and claim DSS money, which what a lot of people