Band Aid and Live Aid 'would be banned by woke warriors' today, says Nigel Planer

14 June 2021, 16:28

Queen and Freddie Mercury wanted to be part of Band Aid's 'Do They Know it's Christmas' but missed out
Queen and Freddie Mercury wanted to be part of Band Aid's 'Do They Know it's Christmas' but missed out. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Band Aid was one of the biggest charity successes of all time when it launched in late 1984, raising £17 million for famine relief.

Bob Geldof and Midge Ure's charity single 'Do They Know It's Christmas' influenced a global charity drivee that generated up to hundreds of millions of pounds.

However, one of the stars involved has said that the single would not be recorded today because of its "colonialist" overtones.

Actor Nigel Planer - who attended the recording of the single as his Young Ones character Neil - said that although the song was made with "very good intentions", the concept would probably not stand up to today's standards.

"I mean nowadays I think it would be investigated, wouldn't it?" he said. "The tone, the colonialist tone of the event, would nowadays come under some scrutiny, I think."

Read more: Queen and Freddie Mercury wanted to be part of Band Aid's 'Do They Know it's Christmas' but missed out

The comedian, who started a degree in African and Asian studies at Sussex University before dropping out to pursue his acting career, said that on the day of recording he "chickened out" and decided not to appear on the single or its video.

He told Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast that his depressive character would have "jarred" with the serious message, saying: "That was fun wasn't it? Now let's look at some poor children with flies on their eyes."

However, Nigel instead recorded a separate sketch that was used in the fundraising drive.

Band Aid featured legendary stars such as George Michael, Bananarama, Sting, Bono and Boy George, and was the biggest-selling UK single of all time until 1997.

However, in recent years the song has been criticised by some people for its Western focus, particularly the line, "Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you", which was dropped from the 2014 remake.

Liberian-born academic Robtel Neajai Pailey, from London's School of Oriental and African Studies, called the lyrics "patronising" and said the song "reeks of the white saviour complex".

Midge Ure has also spoken of the song's criticisms, saying: "It was all about generating money." However, Bob Geldof has said anyone criticising the lyrics can "f*** off".