John Cleese slams decision to remove Fawlty Towers episode


Fawlty Towers star John Cleese has slammed a decision to have one of the episodes from the popular removed.

The 1975 British comedy starring Cleese ran for two seasons, and has remained popular viewing in the modern day, available to stream in Australia on Foxtel and Stan.

But the show's most celebrated episode titled The Germans has suddenly been stripped from the BBC-owned UKTV service in the UK.

It follows Cleese's character Basil Fawlty making war jokes and mockingly impersonating Adolf Hitler while repeatedly shouting, "Don't mention the war!" in front of a group of German hotel guests.

It's the latest streaming service purge amid Black Lives Matter protests and now Cleese has responded.

"One of the things I've learned in the last 180 years is that people have very different senses of humour," he told The Sydney Morning Herald.

"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?

"Fawlty Towers has given a large number of people a great deal of happiness, why would you want to stop that. It reminds me of the definition of a Scottish Presbyterian as someone who has a nasty, sneaking feeling that someone, somewhere, is having a good time."

The move has outraged many fans on social media, who think the "cancel culture" in regards to removing historical TV shows has gone "too far".

Actor John Cleese as Basil Fawlty doing an impression of Hitler in Fawlty Towers.
Actor John Cleese as Basil Fawlty doing an impression of Hitler in Fawlty Towers.

The move has outraged many fans on social media, who think the "cancel culture" in regards to removing historical TV shows has gone "too far".

OPINION: Cancelling TV shows is the end of reason

According to The Guardian, a spokesperson for UKTV wouldn't clarify on whether the move was permanent: "We aren't commenting on individual titles. However, we regularly review our programs and make edits, add warnings and make schedule changes where necessary to ensure that our channels meet the expectations of our audience."

The episode also includes a scene in which regular hotel guest Major Gowen uses strong racist language about the West Indies cricket team, although this is usually now edited out.

The removal of the episode comes as a host of controversial shows have been stripped from a range of streaming services over the last couple of days, in response to outrage over the death of unarmed black man George Floyd in police custody.

Netflix removed four of Chris Lilley's TV shows for racial depictions, including the critically acclaimed Summer Heights High, while HBO Max ripped Hollywood classic, Gone With The Wind.

Chris Lilley As Jonah Takalua. Picture: Supplied
Chris Lilley As Jonah Takalua. Picture: Supplied

Popular sketch comedy shows Little Britain and Come Fly With Me were also removed from several streaming services overseas after controversy over the use of blackface characters, while The Mighty Boosh and The League Of Gentlemen were pulled from Netflix.

 

Originally published as 'Too far': Viewers outraged over removal



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