Old TV variety favourite The Black and White Minstrel Show ought to be revived, claimed an academic yesterday.
'Sometimes you have to look back to move ahead', insisted Liam Twatte, the Noel Edmonds Professor of Idiocy at the University of Whitstable.
The original minstrel troupe is to reform for a special concert at the O2 Arena next summer, and it is hoped that a spin-off TV series will recreate the magical era of the 50s, 60s and 70s, when whole families gathered around the 'telly' to enjoy Saturday night variety shows.
'We never replaced the unique bonding effect of those old shows' argued Mr Twatte. 'People knew where they were in those days. What could be more comforting for a British audience than to watch a nostalgic musical evocation of the certitudes of the Old South, where docile grinning black slaves tap dance and flash their teeth, while tall aryan dancers woo and charm coy parasol-twirling pretty young white women to the tune of "Camptown Races" or "Ole Man River", the whole tableau being framed by dreamlike scenery depicting gothic mansions, paddle-boat steamers and gambling dens?'
'Since the Black and White Minstrels were driven from our families' screens in the late 70s, the nation has fallen into cultural decline' argued Mr Twatte. 'Families no longer get together to watch the Minstrels croon 'Shortnin' Bread' or 'Lil' Liza Jane'. All is unrest and ferment. The dusky races are in turmoil, they don't know their place any more, now that we are all deprived of the structures cemented into place by Empire and those great old shows.'
The word on the street seems to back up the highbrow theories of the Professor. 'There was no international terrorism in those days', ubiquitous celebrity ignoramus Jeremy Clarkson told us yesterday. 'Your Arabs stuck to horse-racing and selling carpets. Alf Garnett and Enoch Powell had their say. And upstarts like Muhammed Ali were put in their place by good old Michael Parkinson.'
Famous yobbo Clarkson, who told us that, instead of issuing another 300-page book of his opinions, his publishers have advised him to issue 300 one-page volumes "to maximise readability and sales", continued (we couldn't stop him): 'The minstrel bands gave these people jobs and smart clothes to wear. Now they're just Bin Laden fodder roaming the streets talking in patois and selling drugs.'