Nigel Planer: Woke warriors would have tried to stop Band Aid hit

Banned Aid! Young Ones star Nigel Planer says today’s woke warriors would have tried to stop the original £17m charity-raising single Do They Know It’s Christmas?… because of its ‘colonialist’ overtones

  • Actor Nigel Planer was at recording of 1984 Band Aid No 1 in character as Neil, the depressed hippie he played on BBC comedy The Young Ones
  • He says that although the song was made with ‘very good intentions’, he believes the concept would not stand up to today’s more woke standards
  • Comedian started degree in African and Asian studies at Sussex Uni before dropping out to pursue an acting career
  • He said that on the day of the recording he ‘chickened out’ at the last minute and declined to appear on single or its video

It raised £17 million for famine relief and kick-started a global charity machine that generated tens, if not hundreds, of millions of pounds more.

But the hit single Do They Know It’s Christmas? might not be recorded today because of its ‘colonialist’ overtones, says one of the stars involved.

Actor Nigel Planer was at the recording of the 1984 Band Aid No 1 in character as Neil, the depressed hippie he played on BBC comedy The Young Ones.

But he says that although the song was made with ‘very good intentions’, he believes the concept would not stand up to today’s more woke standards.

‘I mean nowadays I think it would be investigated, wouldn’t it?’ he said. ‘The tone, the colonialist tone of the event, would nowadays come under some scrutiny, I think.’

It raised £17 million for famine relief and kick-started a global charity machine that generated tens, if not hundreds, of millions of pounds more. But the hit single Do They Know It’s Christmas? might not be recorded today because of its ‘colonialist’ overtones, says one of the stars involved. (Above, singers, including Simon Le Bon, Bob Geldof, Bono and Sting record the single in 1984)

Actor Nigel Planer was at the recording of the 1984 Band Aid No 1 in character as Neil (above), the depressed hippie he played on BBC comedy The Young Ones. But he says that although the song was made with ‘very good intentions’, he believes the concept would not stand up to today’s more woke standards

The comedian, who started a degree in African and Asian studies at Sussex University before dropping out to pursue an acting career, said that on the day of the recording he ‘chickened out’ at the last minute and declined to appear on the single or its video.

He told Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast that his comedy alter ego would have ‘jarred’ with the serious message of the day, giving a feeling of: ‘That was fun wasn’t it? Now let’s look at some poor children with flies on their eyes.’ 

But he did record a separate sketch that was used in the fundraising effort.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=j3fSknbR7Y4%3Frel%3D0%26showinfo%3D1

At that time, Robtel Neajai Pailey, a Liberian-born academic at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, called the lyrics ‘patronising’ and said the track ‘reeks of the white saviour complex’. (Above, Bob Geldof in Ethiopia in 2003)

Featuring stars such as George Michael, Bananarama, Bono and Boy George, Do They Know It’s Christmas? became the biggest-selling UK single of all time. It has been re-released three times and the subsequent Live Aid concert raised an astonishing £40 million.

Nigel Planer (above, today), who started a degree in African and Asian studies at Sussex University before dropping out to pursue an acting career, said that on the day of the recording he ‘chickened out’ at the last minute and declined to appear on the single or its video

Bob Geldof, who was later knighted for his charity work, teamed up with Midge Ure to create the track after seeing harrowing BBC reports of the escalating crisis in Ethiopia. 

But this is not the first time it has been criticised for its Western viewpoint, particularly the line, ‘Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you’, which was dropped from the 2014 remake.

At that time, Robtel Neajai Pailey, a Liberian-born academic at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, called the lyrics ‘patronising’ and said the track ‘reeks of the white saviour complex’.

Ure has admitted the song’s limitations, but said: ‘It was all about generating money.’ In his more direct style, Geldof has said anyone criticising the lyrics can ‘f*** off’.

Planer, 68, admitted that he was ‘quite purist’ about the issue and had similar reservations about Comic Relief, which last year announced it would stop sending celebrities to Africa after it, too, was accused of perpetuating the stereotype of ‘white saviours’.

Featuring stars such as George Michael, Bananarama, Bono and Boy George, Do They Know It’s Christmas? became the biggest-selling UK single of all time. It has been re-released three times and the subsequent Live Aid concert raised an astonishing £40 million. (Above, Duran Duran arrive to record the single)

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