Publisher reveals character 'portrayed in a racist way' is white

Food writer Jack Monroe slams David Walliams’ ‘horrific racism’ for portraying character with ‘big frizzy hair’ in children’s book – only for publisher to reveal the character is in fact WHITE

  • Jack Monroe has hit out at the children’s books of comedian David Walliams 
  • The food writer claims there are racial undertones and ‘fat-shaming’ in the books
  • In November 2019 Walliams joined a select list of authors to have sold more than £100 million worth of books 

Activist and food writer Jack Monroe has launched a withering attack on David Walliams, labelling the comedian’s popular collection of children’s stories racist and ‘fatshaming nonsense.’

But HarperCollins Children’s Books responded to the thread and said that Jack Monroe’s tweets are factually inaccurate because the character she claimed had racial undertones is actually white. 

In a blizzard of posts on Twitter she dissected several of Mr Walliams’ best-selling children’s tales, picking out contentious characters and plot developments.

The food writer accused the Little Britain star of ‘targeting the working class’, and said  his stories recycled material from the controversial comedy show that made his name. 

She began: ‘Small Boy completed his D*vid Walli*ms book collection today, so I finally decided to take a read of the latest. (It’s important to note here I’ve not bought a single one.) It’s like Little Britain for kids. 37m copies sold? Of this sneering classist fatshaming grim nonsense?’ she wrote on her Twitter profile, before adding: ‘a thread will now follow.’

Many of her followers agreed with her, while other stuck up for the comedy star. 

Activist and food writer Jack Monroe has launched a withering attack on the children’s novels of comedian David Walliams, branding them racially insensitive and ‘fat-shaming’

She then went on to quote from the books, highlighting her grievances with the content to her 300,000 followers.

‘Supermum, in The World’s Worst Parents, is BORING because she lives in a TOWER BLOCK and she CLEANS TOILETS. Single mum of two, Spike and Punk. I’m not sure what qualifies her as being one of the World’s Worst Parents when all she does is love her kids and make them laugh?’ she questioned.

‘There’s a kid in this book called Ping Pong, and I’d find it difficult to believe that’s not a throwback to (the now derided racist trope) Ting Tong from LB [Little Britain].

‘But there are more than enough examples to be getting on with without gymnastics back through the ages, so I’ll continue.’

Last month Little Britain was removed  frof BBC iPlayerr, Netflix and BritBox in a row over blackface characters. 

In November 2019 Walliams joined a select list of authors, including the likes of JK Rowling and Dame Jacqueline Wilson, to have sold more than £100 million worth of books

One example flagged up the apparent targeting of working class fathers (top), while another extract appeared to recycle and old vomiting joke previously used in Little Britain

Funny or offensive? Quotes from David Walliams’ latest The World’s Worst Parents – with Jack Monroe’s verdict

Quote: ‘Oh no, it’s Supermum! Brandishing a toilet brush, a mop and a very bad homemade outfit’

Jack Monroe: ‘Single mum of two – I’m not sure what qualifies her as being one of the World’s Worst Parents when all she does is love her kids and make them laugh?’

Quote: ‘Granville didn’t laugh exactly. If he found something funny, like the misfortune of poor people…’

Monroe: ‘You what mate? Had to close the book at this point and have a small chat with my Small Boy about how ‘misfortune’ and ‘poverty’ aren’t punchlines for jokes.’

Quote: Suddenly Tony Truffle, Boby Bollywood and Dame Penelope Plum all turned a violent shade of green.

Tony Truffle was first. He hurled his spaghetti over Boby Bollywood. ‘BLEURGH!’. Boby was not far behind> He hurled his spaghetti all over the dame.

‘BLLEEUURRGGHH!’ It may surprise you to know that of the three the dame cold hurl the furthest.

Monroe: Back to Little Britain, we have the Classic Projectile Vomiting Joke. Four whole pages of it. Does he not have any new material?’

Continuing on her Twitter tirade, the food writer went on to draw up cases of alleged racial undertones in the writing of Mr Walliams, noting: ‘There’s the black female teacher, Miss Tutelage, whose ‘big frizzy hair’ is a punchline. As is the school bully calling her ‘Archbishop Desmond Tutu’. 

‘Which seems verbose for a character who was just saying ‘WOT?’ and being kept back many school years for being ‘thick’.

Harper Collins said: ‘the character Jack Monroe refers to, Miss Tutelage, as a ‘black female teacher’ is indeed a white character.’

‘Four eyes’ being used about a character with glasses. ‘Fat’ as a derogatory description, pretty much throughout. Another projectile vomit joke. ‘Frizzball’ as a nickname for the teacher with the big hair and unpronounceable name… I’m still going.’ she added.

The publisher’s statement responded the thread and said: ‘David Walliams’s books have a diverse readership which is reflected in their content. 

‘He writes about the real worlds of children using comedy as a way of confronting many difficult topics, from the ground-breaking The Boy in the Dress to Gangsta Granny, and which should be considered in the wider context of the overall stories. 

‘In his World’s Worst … series he writes cautionary tales using surreal humour to champion underdogs, deflate the pompous and denounce bullies. 

‘David Walliams’s books have transformed countless non-readers into booklovers and got families reading together.’ 

The thread received mixed responses, though many Twitter users expressed similar opinions about Mr Walliams work which they had felt previously unable to air.

One Twitter user, Michaela Deas, replied: ‘Oh thank the deities someone has finally said it! Cannot abide those books. Dreadful, racist, classist dreck. Have never understood why they are even remotely successful. Thank you, Jack x’

Another, under the username @Miss Lupescu67, added: ‘He makes my skin crawl. His books are an awful influence on their readers and it makes me seethe that he gets such a huge amount of promotion over far more talented writers because he was ‘a name.’ He even gets to appear at so many of the childrens Literature events.’

Mr Walliams’ most recent literary creation, ‘the Ice Monster,’ has just been released in audiobook format and was being promoted over social media throughout Monday.

His many adoring fans were quick to praise the work. One Twitter user, Julie-Ann21, responded to the @DavidWalliams Twitter account: ‘Fabulous illustrations, great book every success with new book too it’s very good, funny and illustrated so well, I hope more people go and get a copy.’

In November 2019 David Walliams joined a select list of authors to have sold more than £100 million worth of books.

The comedian turned children’s writer joined the likes of JK Rowling, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Julia Donaldson, Jamie Oliver and Dan Brown in reaching the landmark figure following the overwhelming success of his work.

He has regularly topped the annual list of bestselling authors since his 2008 debut, The Boy in the Dress – which alone has sold over one million copies worldwide.  

Jack Monroe

Jack Monroe became known for her blog A Girl Called Jack, later changed to Cooking on a Bootstrap, which gave families ideas for meals for under £10 a week.

Monroe has written for the Echo, the Huffington Post, the New York Times, the New Yorker and the Guardian.

The food writer has also published numerous books about cooking on a budget. 

Monroe is an outspoken campaigner for different causes, particularly to do with poverty and hunger, but has also been involved in several controversial disputes.

In 2014 Monroe tweeted that David Cameron ‘uses stories about his dead son as misty-eyed rhetoric to legitimise selling our NHS to his friends’.

Monroe was criticised for ‘using David Cameron’s son’s death’ and was later criticised for accepting the Women of the Future Award in the media category in 2015, after coming out as non-binary.

In 2017 Monroe won a libel action against ex-Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins and was awarded £24,000 in damages.

The action was over a Twitter exchange in 2015 where Hopkins inaccurately attributed Laurie Penny’s tweet, that she did not have an issue with vandalising war memorials, to Monroe.

Monroe then threatened libel action as someone from an armed forces family.

In April this year Monroe co-hosted the Daily Kitchen Live with Matt Tebbutt on BBC One, offering meal advice for people struggling during the pandemic.

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