Rishi Sunak pleads: 'Don’t gobblefunk Roald Dahl’s words’

Rishi Sunak has weighed on in the censorship row over Roald Dahl’s books credit:Bang Showbiz
Rishi Sunak has weighed on in the censorship row over Roald Dahl’s books credit:Bang Showbiz

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is calling for censors not to "gobblefunk" Roald Dahl's work.

He made the plea amid ongoing outcry over publisher Puffin’s decision to edit some of the late author's beloved works – which include 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory', 'Matilda' and 'James and the Giant Peach' – to remove terms such as "fat" in a bid to allow "all children today" to enjoy the books.

In a nod to a phrase in Roald's 1982 bestseller 'The BFG', Mr Sunak, 42, has warned censors should not "gobblefunk" with words, as Britain has always treasured “freedom of expression”.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said: "When it comes to our rich and varied literary heritage, the PM agrees with the BFG that you shouldn't 'gobblefunk' around with words. I think it's important that works of literature and works of fiction are preserved and not airbrushed. We have always defended the right to free speech and expression."

Mr Sunak’s weighed in on the row after Booker Prize-winning author Salman Rushdie blasted the edits - which will reportedly see 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' character Augustus Gloop now referred to as "enormous" rather than "fat" and Earthworm in 'James and the Giant Peach' now described as having "lovely smooth skin" as opposed to "lovely pink skin" - as "absurd censorship" and claimed that the estate of Roald Dahl should be "ashamed" of themselves.

Salman, 75, who is still living under a fatwa and is recovering from being knifed in New York in 2002, tweeted: "Roald Dahl was no angel but this is absurd censorship. Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed."

The Roald Dahl Story Company claimed the editing process has been ongoing for almost three years and say they hope the changes will still maintain the "spirit" of the "wonderful stories" written by the renowned author, who died in 1990 at the age of 74.

A spokesperson for the firm said: "We want to ensure that Roald Dahl's wonderful stories and characters continue to be enjoyed by all children today. When publishing new print runs of books written years ago, it's not unusual to review the language used alongside updating other details including a book's cover and page layout. Our guiding principle throughout has been to maintain the storylines, characters, and the irreverence, and sharp-edged spirit of the original text."