John Cleese Calls UK Streamer "Stupid" For Pulling Controversial 'Fawlty Towers' Episode
John Cleese has responded with harsh words after streamer UKTV lifted an episode of Fawlty Towers from its service. Get Cleese's comments on why he believes the episode, which uses racial slurs, shouldn't be removed.
John Cleese didn't mince his words about the BBC and UKTV after they removed an episode of his show Fawlty Towers.
Speaking to The Age, Cleese revealed that he wasn't consulted on this decision, and that he views it as a "stupid" and "cowardly" move.
On Thursday, UKTV had announced that they temporarily removed the episode "The Germans" due to its use of racial slurs. It's thought that a scene where "The Major" uses the N-word three times is the offending content in the episode.
"We want to take time to consider our options for this episode," UKTV's statement said.
An update on Fawlty Towers for our viewers pic.twitter.com/O0kFR4Md8E— Official UKTV (@UKTV) June 11, 2020
Fawlty Towers: John Cleese on "The Germans" episode
But Cleese, the co-creator, writer and star of Fawlty Towers, is far from a fan of the decision.
"One of the things I've learned in the last 180 years is that people have very different senses of humour," he said.
He then went on to clarify the satirical and critical intent behind the use of the slurs in Fawlty Towers.
"Some of them understand that if you put nonsense words into the mouth of someone you want to make fun of you're not broadcasting their views, you're making fun of them."
"The major was an old fossil left over from decades before. We were not supporting his views, we were making fun of them. If they can’t see that, if people are too stupid to see that, what can one say?"
Cleese's criticisms took aim specifically at those in charge at the BBC, which owns streamer UKTV. He feels they're giving into the view that past media must conform to contemporary standards of morality.
"A lot of the people in charge now at the BBC just want to hang onto their jobs," he said. "If a few people get excited they pacify them rather than standing their ground as they would have done 30 or 40 years ago."
John Cleese supports protests after George Floyd's death
But the 80-year-old actor and comedian doesn't want his opinion to get skewed: He stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests.
"At the moment there is a huge swell of anger and a really admirable feeling that we must make our society less discriminatory, and I think that part of it is very good," said the British star who now lives in Los Angeles.
"It seems to me the best parts of the George Floyd protests have been very moving and very, very powerful," he continued.
"There are looters, just as there are rogue police, but if we let our focus be on the 10 per cent who are always trying to f--- everything up, we might forget that what it's really about is trying to behave a bit more kindly towards everyone," Cleese concluded.
Fawlty Towers only aired 12 episodes between 1975 and 1979, but the show has maintained a strong reputation ever since.
It remains to be seen just how UKTV will handle "The Germans," but a new report says that it should return to the channel's library - possibly with changes or a note of warning - in the coming days.