22 NOVEMBER 2003, Page 36

Stereotypical Clive

From Francis Wheen Sir: I'm glad to see Clive James's tribute to 'clever Aussies' (Letters, 15 November), but puzzled by his assertion. 'At the time my generation of expatriates arrived in London, the Private Eye crew had fun practising a form of licensed anti-Semitism by which it was assumed that Australians were good for nothing except sport. The view was obsolete even then. .. What they were really reacting against was the awful possibility that some of the interlopers might be able to write rings round them.'

He is clearly referring to the Barry McKenzie comic strip, which appeared in the Eye from 1964 to 1974. It was written by another witty interloper from Australia, Barry Humphries. Mr James's distaste for this 'form of licensed anti-Semitism' will be particularly surprising to anyone who recalls Bruce Beresford's 1974 film Barry McKenzie Pulls It Off, based on the comic strip.

Its cast included John Le Mesurier, Tommy Trinder, Fiona Richmond, Frank Windsor, Gough Whitlam (as himself) and the talented newcomer Clive James, playing Bazza's permanently intoxicated mate Paddy.

Francis Wheen

Pleshey, Essex