John Cleese Slams BBC For Removing ‘Fawlty Towers’ Episode With Racial Content
At least one star is not pleased that his work has been removed from public view, at least temporarily, as TV channels and streaming services react to the protests that have sprung up around the world following the death of George Floyd. Police shows like Live PD and Cops have been canceled, and older episodes of shows like Little Britain have been taken off of Netflix because of their use of blackface.
The BBC has also removed one episode of the classic British sitcom Fawlty Towers because of its use of racial slurs. Several are used in “The Germans,” in which a group German guests come to Basil Fawlty’s hotel. The BBC previously edited the slurs out of the show during reairings beginning in 2013; now the show has been pulled from the BBC streaming service UKTV.
Reached for comment by The Age, series star and co-creator John Cleese called the decision “stupid,” and insisted that his show was very much mocking racists, not embracing their view. Speaking of the character who used the slurs, Cleese said:
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?
On Twitter, UKTV said they had “temporarily” removed “The Germans” while they “review it,” because it “contains racial slurs”.
It seems like “The Germans” will return in some form, with some kind of additional editing or content warnings — much the way HBO Max took down Gone With the Wind this week while announcing it would bring the film back soon with additional context. In the meantime, every episode of Fawlty Towers is still available on DVD or for rent or purchase digitally on several different platforms.
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