arts

A UK TV station bought a painting by Hitler. A studio audience will vote on whether to destroy it

Published 14th October 2022
Jimmy Carr's new show may involve him destroying a painting by Hitler
Credit: Rob Parfitt/Channel 4
A UK TV station bought a painting by Hitler. A studio audience will vote on whether to destroy it
Written by Christian Edwards, CNNLondon
British broadcaster Channel 4 has received stinging criticism over plans for a new show that will allow a studio audience to decide whether to destroy a painting by Adolf Hitler.
The channel bought works by a range of "problematic" artists, including, according to UK media reports, Pablo Picasso, convicted pedophile Rolf Harris and sexual abuser Eric Gill.
Jimmy Carr, the show's host, will chair a debate on whether an artwork can ever really be separated from its creator. At the end, the audience will vote on whether Carr should destroy the work.
If the audience decides to destroy the painting by Hitler, it will be shredded, a Channel 4 spokesman told CNN.
"Jimmy Carr Destroys Art" is due to air on October 24.
"Jimmy Carr Destroys Art" is due to air on October 24. Credit: Rob Parfitt/Channel 4
Other artworks on the show, however, "might be torched by a flamethrower," the spokesman said.
But the announced plans for "Jimmy Carr Destroys Art" -- due to air on October 24 -- have provoked strong criticism.
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust accused the show of "making Hitler a topic of light entertainment."
"There is nothing entertaining or laughable about Hitler or the murder of 6 million Jews, and the persecution of millions more," Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the trust, said in a statement to CNN.
"This is deeply inappropriate, and at a time of increasing Holocaust distortion, dangerously trivializing," she said.
In a statement to CNN, Channel 4 defended the show, calling it "a thoughtful and nuanced exploration of the limits of free expression in art, and whether work by morally despicable artists still deserves to be seen."
The Channel 4 spokesman said the show "speaks directly to the current debate around cancel culture and is in a long tradition of Channel 4 programming."
The state-owned but commercially funded channel was founded 40 years ago to give UK viewers an edgy alternative to the two main channels, BBC and ITV.
In a vision statement on its website, it says its purpose is to "test boundaries and challenge conventions" -- but Marks-Woldman said this "cannot excuse the trivialization of the horrors of Nazism."
"The question of how far art can be linked to its creators is an important one, but this program is simply a stunt for shock value," she said.
The choice of Carr as a host has also been controversial. Earlier this year, he was condemned for making a joke about Roma people killed during the Holocaust.
"Choosing Jimmy Carr to front this episode is deliberately provocative and inflammatory given his history of using the murder of Roma and Sinti people by the Nazis and their collaborators for comedic gain," said Marks-Woldman.
CNN has reached out to Jimmy Carr's representatives for comment.