Hugh Bonneville fears being cancelled by ‘mob’ is now ‘instantaneous’

Entertainment, Celebrity

Hugh Bonneville fears being cancelled by a “mob” is now “instantaneous”.

The ‘Downton Abbey’ actor, 60, plays a grouchy “dinosaur” news anchor in the upcoming TV drama ‘Douglas is Cancelled’, and ahead of its first episode being shown on Thursday (27.06.24) he warned so-called cancel culture is now at a dangerous level as it’s driven by the astonishing “speed” of the mainstream and social media.

He told The Herald newspaper when asked what the ITV series has to say about the cancelling trend: “It’s very interesting to see how it’s playing out. Cancel culture has been around since the word scapegoat was used in the Bible for people being thrown out of society for not holding generally accepted views. It’s always been around us, it's nothing new.

“What’s different today is that the pile-on of the mob is now instantaneous. The speed at which truth and lies accelerate via mainstream and social media is exponential and extraordinary.

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“The way a metaphorical corpse can be mutilated and stamped upon by a mob anonymised by fingers typing at warp speed: ‘Right, killed that one several times over. Who’s next?’”

Written by ‘Doctor Who’ showrunner Steven Moffat, 62, ‘Douglas is Cancelled’ follows Hugh’s nationally beloved newsreader Douglas who is cancelled over a misogynist joke he was overheard telling at a wedding. His wife is a warped tabloid newspaper editor and their daughter is a 19-year-old “woke” girl who repeatedly talks about “microaggression”.

Along with cancel culture, the show also references the #MeToo movement, workplace gender dynamics and young people on social media.

Hugh added about his character: “Douglas is a perfectly decent, pleasant man who’s doing a good job and is well liked for what he does. He thinks so, too.

“Even when, a couple of years ago, he welcomed a younger colleague, Madeline, onto the sofa beside him he felt secure, safe in the knowledge that the warm, avuncular relationship he had with his protegee wasn’t a threat to his own position.”

Chatting about whether Douglas is smug, Hugh added: “I wouldn’t say so. Unguardedly confident, definitely. But, just as the dinosaurs didn't know they were a dying breed, Douglas is blithely unaware that the next generation is smarter, more streetwise and capable of sheer ruthlessness when the chips are down. Or when wrongs have not been righted.

“That’s his blind spot. His fatal flaw. That’s what’s at the heart of his character. Hubris.

He added about the show and its themes: “It taps into so many strands of what’s current in terms of our views on ethics, behaviour in the workplace and in our wider society, what we can and can’t say, what we can and can’t do, what’s acceptable, what’s beyond the pale.”

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