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Frankie Boyle in Down's syndrome row
Friday 09 April 2010
Mock the Week comedian offends mother of child with Down's syndrome
Frankie Boyle, star of BBC2's ‘Mock the Week', faced "the most excruciating moment" of his career when he offended the mother of a daughter with Down's syndrome.
The Scottish comedian was performing at the Reading Hexagon theatre on Wednesday night, when he launched into a routine about people with Down's syndrome. Mocking their haircuts, clothes and employment prospects, he repeatedly used the word ‘mongoloid' and joked that people with Down's syndrome are destined for an early death.
Sitting in the front row was Sharon Smith, the mother of five-year-old Tanzie, who has Down's syndrome. Her discomfort was spotted by Boyle, who asked why she was talking to her husband. Mrs Smith, 37, from Hampshire, said that she was upset by some of his comments. Boyle apparently responded by saying "Oh, well, it's all true isn't it?"
The confrontation has received huge publicity after Mrs Smith posted details of it on her blog. Following the jokes about Down's syndrome, Boyle explained his humour, and said that Mrs Smith should have known what to expect. "He was obviously unsettled by the episode," she said, "but nothing like the way I felt. I truly have never felt so small."
The blog has become a Twitter sensation. Among those posting support for Mrs Smith is Mencap ambassador and 'Gavin & Stacey' star Mathew Horne, who described the routine as "rubbish".
Ismail Kaji, a spokesperson for Mencap, said: "Making fun of a person's disability is not a joke. This kind of comment is no different to bullying, and I am shocked that anyone would be so aggressive and want to hurt people's feelings in this way.
"I hope that Frankie Boyle will learn a lesson from this and I think he should apologise in public to the people he has upset."
Boyle and his agent have so far declined to comment on the issue.
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