When crack comedy-writing duo Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain got into a room with Brass Eye provocateur Chris Morris, to discuss how to make a comedy about home- grown Islamist suicide bombers, no lines were drawn, and "anything", says Armstrong, when we meet in London, "was up for grabs".
They were clear, however, where their target lay: "None of us wanted to write a film ridiculing Islam or Muslims," Bain says. "But we did want to write a film ridiculing terrorists." Or, his writing partner interjects, suggesting "that there was a ridiculous nature to some of their actions".
They "weren't afraid" of offending Muslims, Bain claims (a few days before Islamic extremists make thinly veiled threats against South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone); that just wasn't the point. And anyway, he and Armstrong, whose output includes Smack the Pony, That Mitchell and Webb Look, Old Guys, and the wonderful Peep Show, while Armstrong also worked on The Thick of It and co-wrote the Oscar-nominated spin-off In the Loop, are not writers who have made offence their stock-in-trade.
"We do not go around thinking, 'What's going to prick the bubble of pomposity of bourgeois society by pulling down our pants and showing them our thing they don't want to see?'" Armstrong laughs. "'We've shocked you now' is not really an impulse we're interested in."
Nor, they insist, is it Morris's modus operandi. He, nonetheless, became Public Enemy No 1 in some sections of the media, in 2001, following a Brass Eye special about child sex abuse called "Paedogeddon!". Knee-jerk reactionaries accused Morris of turning the issue into a sick joke, when, in fact, his real subject was the media-generated hysteria and moral panic that had made any kind of reasoned public discussion about paedophiles almost impossible. The backlash against the programme merely confirmed its thesis.
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