In the summer of 2011, Neil Oliver made a film about the “myths and legends” of Glastonbury, and the BBC broadcast it shortly before festival headliners U2 performed. 

The television presenter recounted that moment on his ‘Love Letters to the British Isles’ podcast in February 2021, the episode description for which declared: “With a glint in his eye, he proudly tells us he was once the warm-up act to Bono and U2 on the Pyramid stage.”

Barely 16 months on, the same Neil Oliver told GB News viewers that the same festival was “the annual pilgrimage of the woke and worthy”, and “the high church of woke”.

His evidence for this? A few of the 200,000 attendees own electric cars.

Well, I say ‘the same Neil Oliver’, but the image promoting that podcast featured a clean-shaven man with a smile on his face.

Within three months he had joined GB News, and quickly settled into his role as a haunted, miserable reactionary husk with the hairstyle of ‘90s Charlie Nicholas and the beard of ‘80s Charlie Manson. 

A pitiable existence, but an increasingly common one. It’s impossible to move for grumpy old men sprinkling ‘woke’, ‘wokeness’, ‘wokeism’ and ‘woke mob’ into every second sentence.

‘Woke’ has historically meant staying alert to racial prejudice and discrimination.

The use of Childish Gambino’s song Redbone and it’s “stay woke’ chorus at the start of Jordan Peele’s 2017 satirical horror Get Out foreshadowed the protagonist’s need to be on his guard against threats based on his skin colour, and was a particularly effective example of ‘woke’ being used properly. 

Now, though, the word has been divorced from its original definition and stripped of its meaning, used almost exclusively to mean ‘thing I don’t like’.

The only positive is the time it saves - if you see someone using ‘woke’ as a pejorative you instantly know you can disregard everything they say about anything. The Boy Who Cried Woke, essentially.  

‘Woke’ provokes a visceral reaction in the kind of 57-year-old who would traditionally have been a dominant figure in Neighbourhood Watch groups and now posts several times a day on the Nextdoor app about ‘suspicious behaviour’ from local teenagers.

The sort of person who spends half their day asking ‘why is everyone so offended by everything?’ and the other half complaining about things that have offended them.

Below are eight very serious and important examples of ‘woke’ highlighted by the anti-woke mob.


In January 2022, the Daily Mail proclaimed “M&Ms go woke!”

The reason? In adverts for the confectionery, the green M&M now wears trainers instead of stilettos. 

Star Trek

Fox News took aim at the legendary sci-fi series in May 2022 after spinoff Strange New Worlds had the audacity to portray the January 6th US Capitol riots negatively.

The Rolling Stones

Piers Morgan condemned Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in October 2021 for removing Brown Sugar from their setlist. The Meghan obsessor accused them of pandering to a “woke-fuelled narrative” by no longer playing a 50-year-old ditty about a young Black woman being sexually exploited by slave traders.

The Labour Party 

A November 2021 column in the Express claimed Labour are currently unelectable due to their “implementation of the woke agenda”. 

The Conservative Party

An October 2021 column in the Express claimed the Conservatives have abandoned free expression and now profit from “radical wokeness”.

Fictional busters of ghosts

A December 2021 article on notorious American far-right website Breitbart lamented the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot on account of it supposedly seeking to “infuse woke feminism” into proceedings, apparently because there are female actors in it.

Presumably this was a betrayal of the all-male real-life Ghostbusters, who famously saved New York City from a 112.5ft Marshmallow Man in 1984.

Lewis Hamilton

Jeremy Clarkson, the answer to a question only your uncle’s asking. In recent years, Formula 1 superstar Lewis Hamilton has become vocal in his support for progressive causes, prompting Clarkson to moan in November 2021 that Hamilton had “decided to go woke and right-on”. ‘Know your place and go vroom vroom for me’, basically.


In January 2022, TV critic Ally Ross happily put his name to a column containing these words: “For the first two decades of this century Islamist terrorists murdered Londoners at will, while Eastenders, a show which prides itself on reflecting ‘real life’, sat on its hands, looked the other way and did nothing”. He added, inevitably, “it didn’t fit the woke narrative, you see”. 

Maybe Ross just got confused after seeing Eastenders star Danny Dyer’s iconic tweet from September 10, 2012, which read: “Can’t believe it’s been nearly 11 years since them sl*gs smashed into the Twin Towers. It still freaks my nut out to this day.”

Imagine you were sitting round the table and a family member expressed one of those opinions. You’d be mortified. 

I’ve devoted more than 800 words to this so far, but the whole ‘woke’ issue was recently summed up neatly by national treasure Kathy Burke in just 13: "I love being 'woke'. It's much nicer than being an ignorant f***ing tw*t.”