Organised by [Ricky Gervais’] touring sidekick Robin Ince, the line-up includes both men, along with Chris Addison, Phill Jupitus, Stewart Lee, Dara O’Briain and Mark Thomas. The bill is bolstered by leading lights from the world of science – including arch atheist Richard Dawkins – and music from, among others, Jarvis Cocker.
“I want these evenings to be like fractured versions of the Royal Institution Christmas lectures,” says Ince, “fun, entertaining and informative.”
His motivation is as benign as it is pro-rationalist. “I wanted to do events around Christmas for people who don’t have any belief, to show that they’re not bitter, Scrooge-like characters. Everyone is going to be approaching the evening from a passionate scientific perspective rather than from a bashing-the-Bible slant.”
The Telegraph, being the Telegraph, felt it necessary to include a bit of muppetry:
There will even be carol-singing, he promises. “Who doesn’t like singing a carol? I mean, if you sing Robbie Williams’s Angels you don’t have to believe in angels, do you? Most singers sing lots of songs that have no truth in them whatsoever.” It’s that kind of casually derogatory remark that may do much to stir the antipathy of those with religious beliefs.
My heart bleeds. Seriously, outside of Stephen Green and the various Archbishops, are any Christians that sensitive?
But by holding this rationalist jamboree so close to Christmas, are they not guilty of provocation?
Hmmm, good point. It is a bit militant of us, holding a stage show and all. I wouldn’t want to provoke the Church of England’s uncontrollable urge to feel victimised.
(wait, can you use ‘bonanza’ like that? I’m confused. Oh, never mind.)