UK television network Sky is under fire after censoring a recent UK broadcast of comedian John Oliver's HBO show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
The most recent broadcast of Oliver's satirical look at the news, which aired Sunday, included jokes about the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
But in the UK broadcast those jokes were cut, leading many to criticize Sky and its parent company Comcast for treating British viewers like children.
Some of the jokes used the Queen's passing to take aim at the UK's newly appointed conservative Prime Minister Liz Truss, as seen below.
\u201c\u201cThe nicest thing the Queen of England ever did for anyone was die the week that woman became prime minister. Because for at least a week, she's not going to be getting justifiably destroyed for answers like that.\u201d\n\nJohn Oliver - Liz Truss glorifies profits\u201d— creative chaos (@creative chaos) 1662964227
The biggest joke Oliver made that referenced the Queen didn't even take aim at the Queen or her newly appointed Prime Minister, but focused instead on brands that used the event of the Queen's death to make overwrought social media tributes.
Oliver opened the show by lampooning some of these tributes, saying:
"...[T]he UK ... is clearly still reeling from the shocking death of a 96-year-old woman from natural causes."
"It is a big moment [of] the week, and for some reason, absolutely everyone felt they had to weigh in on."
Oliver then mocked brands like Swedish animated character Crazy Frog and the UK division of Domino's Pizza for their strange tributes to the Queen. He quipped:
"...[I]f the world is mourning, they should maybe tell the U.S. Domino’s account, whose most recent tweet as of this taping is ‘if ur reading this it means u need pizza, like to confirm.' Get your fu*king house in order Domino’s! A lady is dead!"
From there, Oliver went on to mock Truss.
"The queen's death is sadly not the only traumatic event that Britain has had to deal with this week. Because on Tuesday, Liz Truss — basically Margaret Thatcher if she were high on glue — became its new Prime Minister."
But according to Variety, the versions that aired on both Sky's streaming platform Now and its broadcast channel Sky Comedy removed all of Oliver's jokes about brands that referenced the Queen, cutting directly to his jab at Truss.
On Twitter, many people expressed anger at the censorship, including many who self-identified as supporters of the late Queen.
\u201cDon't censor my @LastWeekTonight. I am British, I am a monarchist and I CAN TAKE A JOKE!!! @SkyUK If @iamjohnoliver wants to have an intelligent, jovial, factual opinion about our queen I wanna hear it. FFS! The coverage and forced mourning here is getting real out of hand. \ud83e\udd10\ud83d\ude24\u201d— Lindsay Sargeant (@Lindsay Sargeant) 1663028003
\u201cWe\u2019re not children, @SkyUK, please do not censor Last Week Tonight With John Oliver again just because he says a few edgy things about the royal family.\u201d— Andy #GTTO (@Andy #GTTO) 1663018339
\u201c@LastWeekTonight .@iamjohnoliver.\nSky cut out your joke about the queen last night. Cowards. Any chance you can put it up on here? They teased us with her picture and and truly amateurish cut.\u201d— Patrick Barker (@Patrick Barker) 1663058883
\u201cBut remember...the monarchy doesn't have any real power. \ud83e\udd14\u201d— Anne "IStandWithUkraine" McCarthy (@Anne "IStandWithUkraine" McCarthy) 1663140827
\u201c@iamjohnoliver @LastWeekTonight any ideas as to why the segment covering the death of the Queen was cut from the latest episode by Sky Comedy? Was somebody upset?\u201d— Tom\u00e1s O'Donnell Bond (@Tom\u00e1s O'Donnell Bond) 1663024100
\u201c@Variety We went on YouTube to watch the bits that were missing. They weren't even particularly controversial??\u201d— Variety (@Variety) 1663065653
\u201c@Variety The jokes aren\u2019t even about the Queen. They\u2019re about responses to her death from outlets like Domino\u2019s Pizza.\u201d— Variety (@Variety) 1663065653
\u201cSeriously.... \n\nSky TV editing the UK broadcast of @LastWeekTonight with John Oliver because of references to the Queen ? \n\nBetween this needless censorship and arresting people for peaceful protest I really do despair for this place \n\nhttps://t.co/XsLTxVBLwZ\u201d— Planet Belfast \ud83c\uddea\ud83c\uddfa (@Planet Belfast \ud83c\uddea\ud83c\uddfa) 1663086964
\u201cVery disappointed in @SkyUK censorship of @LastWeekTonight with @iamjohnoliver - we condemn other countries for this sort of behaviour. The audience is used to his irreverent style and light hearted comments. The \u201ctarget\u201d of his remarks was corporate social media!\u201d— Ross McKillop \uea00 (@Ross McKillop \uea00) 1663020670
\u201cSo I managed to watch the uncut episode and there was absolutely no reason to cut the bits about the queen and definitely no reason to cut the Johnson/Truss stuff. What you playing at @SkyUK?!\n\n@LastWeekTonight @iamjohnoliver You\u2019re being heavily censored in the UK.\u201d— Kraig (@Kraig) 1663017561
The censorship incident comes on the heels of a shocking wave of arrests of anti-monarchist protestors who have attended events related to Queen Elizabeth's death and King Charles III's accession in England and Scotland to call for the abolition of the British monarchy.
Free speech advocates have decried the arrests as anti-democratic.