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Gervais apologetic over 'killing' joke

PUBLISHED: 18:12 16 January 2007 | UPDATED: 08:07 02 March 2010

RED-faced Ricky Gervais today defended making a joke about the killing of prostitutes.

Britain's top comedy star, who will be bringing his latest live show, Fame, to Ipswich in March, spoke out after fearing his ill-timed joke would cause offence in Suffolk after the killings of five women.

RED-faced Ricky Gervais today defended making a joke about the killing of prostitutes.

Britain's top comedy star, who will be bringing his latest live show, Fame, to Ipswich in March, spoke out after fearing his ill-timed joke would cause offence in Suffolk after the killings of five women.

Gervais is currently touring with Fame, which is his third live tour.

Tickets for his two shows at the Regent in March went on sale today but the embarrassed comedian has been forced to admit that one of his jokes could cause offence in Ipswich.

In a moment reminiscent of his most famous character, The Office's David Brent, Gervais told a story at one of the first shows of the tour at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall about a time he was asked for his advice on becoming famous.

“Go out and kill a prostitute” was his advice, he told the audience, before adding “I won't do this bit in Ipswich”.

The joke has attracted criticism, including from Jim Duell, the father of Tania Nicol, 19, who was one of the five victims of the Ipswich red-light killings.

Mr Duell today branded Gervais' remarks disrespectful and in bad taste.

“These days they want to make a joke out of everything,” he said. “If this comedian is saying things like this he is trampling on a lot of emotions.”

But as grieving Ipswich comes to terms with the killings of five young sex workers, an apologetic Gervais said he meant no offence.

The conversation he referred to in the show happened five years ago, he said, and he was talking about people who will do anything to become famous.

“I do want people to know that that happened five years ago and is not related to anything now,” he said.

“At that point I hadn't considered whether I would or wouldn't do it in Ipswich, but I probably won't. It is a sensitive issue.

“What has happened there is probably so overwhelming in people's minds that they might think I am saying it now. That is the problem with comedy, a joke that is funny today can be a terrible faux pas tomorrow.”

Mr Duell said the killings in Ipswich had been national and international news and the Ipswich community deserved for them to be treated with sensitivity and understanding.

Tania, 19, her friend Gemma Adams, 25, Paula Clennell, 24, Anneli Alderton, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29, were all killed and their bodies found in rural locations outside Ipswich. All had worked as prostitutes in Ipswich's red-light district.

Mr Duell, who said he had not heard of Gervais or seen his shows, said the comedian's comments would upset people in Ipswich.

He said: “It's in bad taste. These people have got no concept of upsetting people. They don't care who they upset.

“I feel he's just being uncaring quite honestly.”

WEBLINK

www.rickygervais.com

For Ipswich's response to the red-light killings see pages 4 and 5.

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