Mark Thomas: 'According to the police, I’m a domestic extremist – that’s my category'

The comedian, actor and activist, performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, discusses being spied upon

comments

This article is from 2014.

Opinion Mark Thomas

Photo: Idil Sukan

The comedian, actor and activist, whose Cuckooed reveals how a friend spied on him, considers the personal trauma caused by surveillance

It seems to me that one of the key issues of the moment is privacy and data protection. For instance, I won’t have a loyalty card – I don’t want some supermarket knowing whether I bought porridge on a Friday or not. Also, I’m not loyal to them – I shop around. I see other shops.

Britain is the country with the most CCTV cameras per capita, and it’s incredible that you have the situation where you walk down somewhere like Oxford Street in London, and god knows how many times you’re filmed and how many databases you’re on. And we just accept it.

It’s very shocking when you find out that you’re been spied upon, and especially when it’s a friend who has done it – when someone has deliberately got close to you in order to get information, and you don’t know who they took it to or what it’s being used for. The notion that this is some kind of victimless crime is totally wrong. People I know who have been spied upon by corporate spies have huge psychological issues as a result. And there’s a real shame that goes along with it – it’s very damaging. Has it affected the way I live? If I’m honest, it probably has.

According to the police, I’m a domestic extremist – that’s my category. There are over 9000 people on the domestic extremist database, which means you can be put under surveillance and that they can collect data on you. I joked with mates that thank god the police actually sent me back the file they had on me – imagine if they had nothing. It would have been so embarrassing. But that’s only partly true.

But we have to stick together. The bottom line, I believe, is that all progressive political activity, all activism is based on cooperation and fellowship. We have to celebrate our community, and mutually work together – and that’s a fantastic thing. It’s the strength of the movement and its weakness.

Cuckooed, Traverse, 228 1404, until 24 Aug (not 18), times vary, £19 (£14).

This article is from 2014.

Mark Thomas: Red Shed

  • 4 stars

Incisive humour and satire as Mark Thomas explores the arena where he began stand-up: a red wooden shed in Wakefield.

Mark Thomas: 100 Acts of Minor Dissent

  • 4 stars

The political heavyweight of the comedy world is renowned for causing mayhem in the quest for fairness and good. Tonight he talks about his many acts of dissent.

Mark Thomas

Ten years ago an activist and close friend of Mark's was exposed as a spy for BAE Systems infiltrating the movement. Now Mark wants to find him and has some questions to ask. This is a true story. The show picks up from where the award winning 'Bravo Figaro' left off in style using interviews from friends, colleagues…

Mark Thomas: Cuckooed

Intelligent humour about being spied on by a large company. Thomas is known for his on-point satire (he describes himself as a 'libertarian anarchist'), having appeared on The Mary Whitehouse Experience, Saturday Zoo and Have I Got News for You?, as well as his own Channel 4 show The Mark Thomas Comedy Product. He's…

Cuckooed

  • 4 stars

Lakin McCarthy in association with Traverse Theatre Company A comedy of betrayal. Mark Thomas tells his true story of how Britain's biggest arms manufacturer (BAE Systems) came to spy on a comedian. A tale of hubris, planes, demos and undercover deceit told by an award-winning performer. Contains strong language…

Comments

Post a comment