Shropshire Star

Cathy Dobbs: Rewrites smash the fun out of Roald Dahl classics

It appears that everyone is now a victim. Whether it’s because of your gender, hair colour, height, dress size, skin colour, job or even your mental health, we all now have something that makes us a target.

Roald Dahl

It’s the reason why Puffin the publisher has had to do a sensitivity audit of Roald Dahl’s famous books to ensure they can ‘continue to be enjoyed by all today’. So, our over-sensitive society doesn’t have to be offended by the word ‘black’ even when it’s used to describe the colour of a tractor. Any mention of someone being fat or needing to go on a diet has been removed.

Also, ladies and gentlemen, as well as boys and girls, has been changed in the interests of gender equality to simply ‘folks’ and ‘children’. The list goes on – it’s as though Miss Trunchbull has taken a politically correct shot put to these harmless books and smashed some of the fun out of them. Aunt Spiker, Aunt Sponge and The Witches would be proud.


We live in a country where one in four women will be raped or sexually assaulted. The highest ever number of rapes within a 12-month period was 70,633, recorded by police in the year ending September 2022.

Does an attitude towards women start with people like Andrew Tate who says women belong in the home, can’t drive and are a man’s property? His videos have been watched 11.6 billion times and his followers on TikTok hear him talking about hitting and choking women, trashing their belongings and stopping them from going out.

His influence spread worryingly amongst teenage boys, with one UK MP saying he is "brainwashing" children. So, it’s good to know that this awful creature is now behind bars in Romania – a place he fits right into as he has described it as an “animal house”. In prison he’s got some mates that are very similar to him as he says the cockroaches and lice are his "only friends at night". Women aren’t victims – we are armed with stilettos, which are very good at crushing cockroaches like Tate.


Back in the UK and ministers are backing proposals that make it illegal to cause “intentional harassment, alarm or distress” to a person in public based on their sex. Offenders can face a maximum of two years in jail if convicted.

While there should be laws protecting women from harassment, there is a fine line between a wolf whistle and what some would see as intimidating behaviour.

Years ago you couldn’t go for a walk without a builder making a comment, or a lorry driver beeping his horn in approval. Now companies encourage inclusivity and a complaint would be taken seriously. Intimidation and harassment have no place in our society, but it’s a shame to ban wolf whistles or compliments if they’ve only been done in a bid to raise a smile.