...A third of a century back, BBC TV had a comedy show called "Not The Nine O'Clock News", starring among others Rowan Atkinson (of Blackadder, Mister Bean et al). One week, Pamela Stephenson sang a song called "Ayatollah, Don't Khomeini Closer". If memory serves, the lyric was by Richard Curtis, who went on to films such as Four Weddings And A Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones' Diary and Love, Actually, and who married my old "Loose Ends" pal Emma Freud; and the music was by Howard Goodall, to whom I have a certain antipathy because back when I badly needed the money Channel 4 fired me from a telly gig and got Howard in instead. But, personal bitterness aside, Goodall and Curtis did a rather good job with the Ayatollah Khomeini song. I always liked this quatrain:
Though you are stubborn as a mule"Ayatollah, don't Khomeini closer..." You could do numbers like that 34 years ago because you could assume that almost everyone watching thought Iran's leader was a barbarian nut rather than a pin-up for your drawing room.
I want you to be my man
I may be in England
But my heart's a hostage in Iran...
Can you still do satirical songs about Khomeini on the Beeb? Or do too many viewers have framed photos of the great man on their mantle? In the intervening years, the Ayatollah has come a lot closer. In Canada, short of delivering the Throne Speech inside the building, he can't get much closer: he's proudly on parade at the legislature of the Dominion's most powerful province - and nobody minds.