Are we witnessing a return to the bad old days of British comedy? This week found the impressionist Rory Bremner criticising the BBC panel show Mock the Week (in whose first two series he starred) for becoming "highly competitive and aggressive". Billy Connolly followed suit, branding "standups ... gurning on panel shows" a threat to the artform.

Then there was the row over Channel 4's Big Fat Quiz of the Year, broadcast last weekend, which attracted complaints to Ofcom after co-hosts Jack Whitehall and James Corden got drunk on air and made loutish remarks about Susan Boyle and the Queen. Not for the first time, UK comedy stands accused of boorish machismo, a throwback to 90s lad culture – or even to the chauvinism of the 1970s that alternative comedy was supposed to have swept aside.

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