Ricky Gervais mocks “fragile, easily offended” people in Roald Dahl edits debate

Ricky Gervais has had his say in the debate surrounding Puffin’s decision to edit Roald Dahl’s books.

Last week, the book publisher announced that Dahl’s books were being edited to remove language deemed offensive in order to make sure the books “can continue to be enjoyed by all today”. Words such as “fat” and “ugly: have been completely removed and there have also been alterations made in relation to subjects such as gender, race and mental health.

The decision sparked discourse online and in the press about censorship, creative freedom and treating certain creative works with outdated language as a product of its time. Even the Queen Consort weighed in, saying that the edits were the work of “those who may wish to curb the freedom of your expression or impose limits on your imagination”.


In response, Gervais took to Twitter to joke about changing his comedy routines for the benefit of the “fragile” and “easily offended”.

He captioned a photo of himself looking pensive with the caption: “This is me pondering whether they’ll change any of the words I’ve used in my work after I’m dead, to spare those who are fragile and easily offended. Words like ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’. And ‘cunt’ and ‘fuck’. And ‘fat, ugly, greedy, pathetic little stupid fucking cunt’. Stuff like that.”

A Twitter user pointed out in response that the difference between the situation with Dahl’s books and his sketches is that Gervais’ comedy isn’t suitable for children, and explained that it can be hard to explain “hurtful” words to them.

“Yeah I know. It was a joke,” Gervais replied.

In another tweet seemingly referencing the situation, Gervais wrote: “I’ve changed my mind. I think we should ban the words ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’. No reason.”


In related news, Ian Fleming’s James Bond books are being reissued this year, and have reportedly been edited to remove racist references and words.

According to The Telegrapha disclaimer is set to accompany all the new books, reading: “This book was written at a time when terms and attitudes which might be considered offensive by modern readers were commonplace.

“A number of updates have been made in this edition, while keeping as close as possible to the original text and the period in which it is set.”