Breitbart Suffers Sense Of Humour Failure Over Nicky Campbell’s ‘Inshallah’.


I have an unhealthy love of the BBC’s flagship religious discussion show The Big Questions. It’s not good for my blood pressure, but it makes for addictive Sunday morning television.

In fact, one of the most entertaining aspects of the show is watching its host and linchpin Nicky Campbell attempt (and mostly succeed) to hold it all together each week.

Navigating the bad blood and cross-talk between Jewish, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, atheist, Wiccan, Whateverism guests could well be an exercise in futility in lesser hands.

A wink and a nod here, a beautifully deployed devil’s advocate there and a telling off once in a while, Campbell seems to be in possession of infinite patience. Watching him play conductor in a woefully dysfunctional orchestra is truly brilliant and often hilarious in equal measure. It shouldn’t work, but somehow he makes it work.

I’ve taken to live tweeting the show and as a result, discovered there are countless numbers of others willing to tune in and tweet along with me. We all moan about it, but we’re kidding ourselves. We love it deep down.

“Did he really just say that?” and “She’s not serious is she?” become the common refrains.

This brings me to the latest episode of The Big Questions for which Nicky Campbell is receiving no small amount of vitriol thanks to signing off the show with ‘Inshallah’, the Arabic, Islamic expression for ‘If God wills it’. You can view the clip below:


Anyone with a brain can clearly see this was done with a tongue firmly in cheek. He’s obviously having a little bit of fun with the referenced, upcoming topic of a religiously prophesised apocalypse. He even crosses his fingers and smiles for God’s sake! Nicky confirmed as much on Twitter after the broadcast:
Also, it’s not the first time Nicky has done this as I’ve noted before. I found it funny then and it still amuses me now. And I’ll keep doing it myself until it gets a laugh.

Furthermore, surely the goal of secularism (if that is your goal) isn’t to eradicate all forms of religious expression from public life. In fact, it would seem almost ideal that these terms become expressions of levity rather than sincere superstitious sentiment – as appears to be Campbell’s intention.

Well, the news platform Breitbart doesn’t quite feel the same as made clear from their articleBBC Presenter Signs Off ‘Inshallah’ On Flagship Debate Programme’ . As stated in the article:

The move will no doubt irk some BBC viewers who still regard Sunday as the Sabbath in Christianity. Mr. Campbell’s line drew a smile from a hijab-clad girl sitting in the audience behind him.

Take five minutes reading the ‘Muslim takeover’ sentiment in the comments if you can stomach it. This utter non-story and failure of humour would almost be funny, but predictably, Twitter indignation and abuse followed:








Also, Raheem Kassam, the editor in chief of Breitbart London (and the author of the article) weighed in with his impartial ten cents…:



I think this upstanding individual wins the main prize though:


I’ve had my own issues with the BBC’s religious output in the past. This however, is not worth getting your knickers in a twist about. You should save your ire for real instances of Islamism.

One thing is for certain: so long as there are people (apocalypse pending), there will always be a sizeable inability to recognise humour, mashallah.

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.


  • I think, but I might be wrong, that Nicky Campbell has ironically used the English “God Willing” quite a few times in this program over time. I say “ironically” because he obviously is a challenger of religion and not part of it at all.
    Not watched yet, but I understand the context to be in relation to next week’s “End of the world” debate, or something. In that case, I can see his dark humour in using it.

  • What did I say that was wrong, or couldn’t be challenged or criticised?

    • Stephen Knight

      I’m not sure I follow Mark. What are you referring to?

      • Maybe a problem with my browser or this site. My comment was “awaiting moderation” and then simply disappeared. I assumed I’d said something that didn’t fit and that it had been refused, but then the comment was back. Technical, outside of human interaction, it seems.

        • Stephen Knight

          If it’s your first time commenting here it goes into a moderation queue for approval. This has to be done manually. Your comments should just appear from now on. Thanks for your thoughts

          • Once you have been approved to comment, your future comments appear automatically? I would have thought that it was still necessary to vet stupid, abusive, unintelligible nonsense we see so often, which ruin so many internet sites and frankly make one despair of having a sensible discussion on anything. But I must say this site has some of the smarter contributors I have ever witnessed, but sadly not enough of them.

          • Stephen Knight

            I understand what you’re saying. This is the system that works best currently for me in regards to time management and comment volume. Were I to suddenly start receiving a huge increase in abusive messages, I’d definitely revisit my set up

  • I thought only Muslims and the #RegressiveLeft couldn’t take jokes? Is Breitbart so deep in its own echo chamber that it does not see the irony? The political horseshoe becomes a full circle really quickly.

  • Sheesh. A ridiculous non story. I agree that Nicky does a great job. He has to be even handed but he obviously has a healthy skepticism towards religion.

  • Its the old problem. Because its often the far right bigots who are the only ones with the stomach to stand up to Islamist nonsense, its very easy for the apologists to dismiss them. The only way to win this narrative is for the rational silent majority to use intelligent argument, humour, sarcasm and irony, instead of the usual excited, emotional rhetoric. Use this cool, calm measured strategy again and again to wear down the extremist elements on both sides. We often criticise the silent moderate Muslims who are themselves often cowed into submission but we have to stand up and be counted ourselves.

  • Oh man. I remember when he had Dawkins on the show and he told the evangelical lady that she was a bigot but didn’t care as long as she didn’t try and force her beliefs on him or into the government. He called it superstition and that it was all rubbish (love how he says it) with no proof at all. Most of the crowd was ready to string him up, and Campbell was just great. He knew they had to go to commercial and, while looking at the camera, said, “Do you agree with what’s been said? Do you disagree? Whatever you say, I’m going to defend your right to say it.” Then, when speaking about the devil in the sense that this being exists, said, “Some people say Richard Dawkins is the devil.” He even ended the show by saying, “May the Force be with you.” I mean, he’s the best tongue-in-cheek host I know of. He always does this.

    Of course America’s religious right (and, to a smaller extent, England’s flailing Christian sects) want to attack this. They are falling fast and hard. They NEED to have this type of controversy because they can continue to yell loudly about how they’re persecuted and how the world is falling apart.

    On another note, one religious person I follow on Twitter and mostly agree with socially: Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet. Dude is smart as a tack and seems to have a good set of values. He’s about as close to an atheist as one can get. Of course, so are many Jews. I learned of him from this same show.

  • Saul Sorrell-Till

    Thanks for this – I’ve written repeated, howling-in-the-wilderness paeans to the inherent brilliance of TBQ and every time felt like I was the only one who liked it. I posted the link to an utterly riveting episode, the one on ‘do British Muslims have a problem with apostasy?’, to Jerry Coyne at WEIT simply because it was such visceral TV. The fact that the far-left hate it and the Islamists/far-right supremacists hate it is a sign that it’s doing something right. Campbell’s an extremely good host, of a programme that frequently escalates quickly, and they rarely film an episode without at least one sensible, rational voice on each side of the various debates. It has its woolly episodes and questions of course, but they’re outnumbered by the baseline quality and the regular moments of genuinely honest, no bullshit, crux-of-the-matter debate. No other programme is as frank and open, as scornful of euphemism and blandishments. It’s no surprise the aforementioned groups dislike it.

    Props for the article.

  • Nicky’s also good at injecting off-the-cuff humour in at various moments. ‘Inshallah’ being an example of such.

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