Finally, after months and months of anguished deliberation, the people remaking that much loved British war classic, The Dam Busters, have come up with a new name for the dog. And here you were thinking – in the unlikely event you had thought about it at all – that the production company’s weightiest problem would be finding a dozen serviceable Lancaster bombers; or, worse, the cost of building new ones; or perhaps working out how to simulate blowing up dams a tad more realistically than they managed in the original, in which one climactic scene of destruction seems to have been created by someone throwing a bucket of water over a toy train.
Anyway, the long naming saga has ended at last, with nothing more complicated than the replacement of a single letter. The canine in question, a black labrador belonging to Wing Commander Guy Gibson, the leader of the raid, is now to be called Digger, the letter D standing in for the letter N.
Now, in case you were mistaken in the belief that this was a matter of absurdly trivial importance, the Daily Mail, that daily literary looking glass of the British middle classes, considered it vital enough to ask its readers in an on-line poll whether the name ought to be changed, the clear inference being that Britain has become far too politically correct in such matters. Astonishingly – well, perhaps not – a huge majority wanted the original name retained. I’m not sure what this might be telling us about race relations in 21st century Britain, and I’m not sure I care to know.
Years ago, when I lived in New York, I seem to remember being told by someone from one of the states of the Deep South that executives at a local television channel had to think long and hard about the Dam in the film’s title for being audibly too close to damn, a word then excised from movies shown on the station. Naturally, the N word remained, not being considered remotely offensive – or even noticed. How times have changed. Well, for the most part.
So Digger it is, and Daily Mail readers be damned.
June 21, 2011