John Cleese breaks silence after Fawlty Towers episode is removed over offensive slurs

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Speaking from his Los Angeles home, John Cleese, 80, who played hotel owner Basil Fawlty and co-wrote the sitcom, has slammed the BBC’s decision to temporarily remove the episode from the platform.

During the instalment, which is currently under review, John’s character yells, “don’t mention the war” while goose-stepping in front of a group of German tourists.

It also contains scenes showing Major Gowen (played by Ballard Berkeley) using offensive language about the West Indies cricket team.

The actor has now slammed “stupid” people who, he claims, fail to see the sitcom as a critique of racism rather than an endorsement.

He told The Age: “One of the things I’ve learned in the last 180 years is that people have very different senses of humour.

“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.”

He added of Major’s scenes: “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?”

John went on to query why the platform would want to stop a show which has brought “a great deal of happiness” to fans.

He added: “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.”

Last night, a spokesperson for UKTV revealed they had temporarily pulled the episode from the streaming platform.

They said: “UKTV has temporarily removed an episode of Fawlty Towers, The Germans, from Gold’s Box Set.

“The episode contains racial slurs so we are taking the episode down while we review it.”

More to follow…

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