Jonathan Bailey and Joel Harper-Jackson at Curtain Call for Cock, by Craig Sugden

Stage Spy: “Cock” banned by London Underground

It seems that, as a word, Cock isn’t as acceptable as we thought it was!

Mike Bartlett’s play Cock, which is currently wowing audiences in the West End at the Ambassadors Theatre starring Jonathan Bailey, has been subjected to censorship!

We already knew that Bailey, and former co-star Taron Egerton, were banned from saying the show’s title on BBC’s The One Show, when they were doing publicity for the run.

But we didn’t clock at the time, that posters for the show on London Transport were also censored. Like, there was no title for the show at all.

Clearly prospective bookers had to have a quick google to work out what the show was, or naturally look for it on WestEndTheatre.com.

The show’s producer Chris Harper told Variety that “we were absolutely astounded that we could not use the word ‘cock’ on the underground – it is 2022! The word is perfectly acceptable and has many meanings. Mike Bartlett’s hilarious play, which is currently playing at the Ambassadors Theatre where the title is proudly displayed on the theatre, is a beautifully written piece which was inspired by a cockfight”.

Transport for London (TFL) who manage the underground have censored show posters before, with Bad Jews – which returns to the Arts Theatre in London this Summer – getting censored in 2015 on grounds that the title could cause “widespread or serious offence”.

Danny Moar, the producer of Bad Jews, told the The Evening Standard at the time that: “Half the cast are Jewish, I’m Jewish, the writer [Joshua Harmon] is Jewish and the word ‘bad’ in the title, in so far as it matters, doesn’t mean ‘evil’ — it means ‘non-observant’.”

Banning the word “Cock” seems pretty arbitrary to us, although either way, it hasn’t hurt ticket sales.

Cock closes on 5 June 2022 starring Jonathan Bailey, Joel Harper-Jackson, Jade Anouka, and Phil Daniels.

More about Cock at the Ambassadors Theatre



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