John Cleese Shamed the BBC Into Reinstating Ousted Fawlty Towers Episode

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A day after the BBC-owned streaming service UKTV removed an episode of Fawlty Towers due to the presence of “racial slurs,” the episode has been reinstated after significant criticism from the show’s star, John Cleese. Per Variety, “The Germans” episode from season one (which famously coined the phrase “don’t mention the war!”) was removed due to the service reappraising its catalogue in light of the international Black Lives Matter movement. While UKTV declined to list the specific issues it had with the episode, it’s assumed that the removal was due to one scene featuring a character, the Major, saying the N-word several times. “The BBC is now run by a mixture of marketing people and petty bureaucrats,” Cleese wrote on social media on June 12. “So BBC decisions are made by persons whose main concern is not losing their jobs. That’s why they’re so cowardly and gutless and contemptible.”

In a separate interview with the Age, Cleese said that the offending character — a senile veteran of an unspecified war who lives at the hotel — should not be taken seriously in 2020. “The Major was an old fossil left over from decades before. We were not supporting his views, we were making fun of them,” he explained. “If they can’t see that, if people are too stupid to see that, what can one say?” UKTV said that the Fawlty Towers episode will be reinstated “in the coming days” with the addition of “extra guidance.”

John Cleese Shamed BBC to Reinstate Fawlty Towers Episode