Comedian who hosts show previously joked about the Holocaust

‘Utterly sick’: UK TV to potentially destroy artwork by Hitler on new reality show

Program will take pieces by ‘problematic’ figures and ask audience to vote on their fate; antisemitism watchdog, other critics, decry ‘desperate’ format

Promo pic for Jimmy Carr Destroys Art ((Rob Parfitt/Channel 4)
Promo pic for Jimmy Carr Destroys Art ((Rob Parfitt/Channel 4)

A British television channel has bought an artwork purportedly painted by Adolf Hitler for a new reality show in which audience members will vote on whether the host should destroy the item.

The plan has drawn protests from an antisemitism watchdog and other critics, who are warning against the use of Hitler’s artwork for entertainment purposes.

The painting is one of several pieces from “problematic” artists purchased by the UK’s Channel 4 for the show, which will explore whether art can be removed from the person behind it, the channel’s programming director Ian Katz told the Guardian in an interview published Thursday.

Other artwork slated to be used in the show includes pieces by convicted pedophile Rolf Harris and a piece belonging to the famed Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, whose history with women has come under scrutiny in the post #MeToo era, with some criticizing his work as misogynistic.

Antisemitism campaigner and journalist Jonathan Sacerdoti told LBC radio that “this sounds like an utterly sick piece of entertainment television,” labeling the idea “the sort of thing an intern might throw up… and then get fired for.”

“This is a desperate desperate plea for attention.”

Britain’s Holocaust Memorial Day Trust said the program was “making Hitler a topic of light entertainment”

Explaining the show’s concept, Katz said, “There are advocates for each piece of art. So you’ve got an advocate for Hitler. There’ll be someone arguing not for Hitler, but for the fact that his moral character should not decide whether or not a piece of art exists or not.”

Artwork that is slated for destruction will be theatrically destroyed, such as with a flamethrower, though the British network insisted it wouldn’t be used on Hitler’s canvas.

As for artwork that is not ultimately destroyed, Katz promised these pieces will not be hung up in a boardroom but will be “appropriately” disposed of.

A spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism told the UK-based Jewish Chronicle that “the Holocaust is still within living memory and must be treated with the utmost respect.”

“Using artwork from Adolf Hitler, the murderous dictator responsible for the deaths of six million Jewish men, women and children, as a prop for an entertainment show risks disrespecting the memories of the victims, which is something that Channel 4 would do well to bear in mind.”

The show’s host, comedian Jimmy Carr, has previously joked about the Holocaust, earlier this year calling the killing of 500,000 Gypsies one of the “positives” to come out of Holocaust.

Channel 4 is known for its at-times edgy programming, including giving people drugs on TV, as well as broadcasting an autopsy.

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