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John Cleese snubbed BBC for Fawlty Towers reboot because it's 'frightened of offending people'

John Cleese snubbed BBC for Fawlty Towers reboot because it's 'frightened of offending people'

"I think you have to allow offence"

John Cleese has snubbed the BBC for his Fawlty Towers reboot because it's 'frightened of offending people'.

Earlier this week, the 83-year-old comedian announced he's set to reprise his most famous role as the hectic hotel owner Basil Fawtly.

Cleese wrote and starred in the original BBC Two series, which ran for two seasons between 1975 and 1979.

However, this time it will look a little different - as well as being joined by his real-life daughter Camilla Cleese, he'll also be taking the show to a different network.

The Monty Python veteran has been critical of the modern comedy circuit, previously suggesting that cancel culture has been the 'death of creativity' and modern comedians are too concerned about ‘offending’ the public.

He echoed these comments in a new interview with GB News' Dan Wootton when being asked about whether or not he'll bring the Fawlty Towers reboot to the BBC.

"No, because I wouldn't get the freedom," he said. "I was terribly lucky, Dan. I was working for the BBC in the late 60s, 70s and the beginning of the 80s.

"That was the best time because the BBC was run by people with real personality who loved the medium and they were operating out of confidence, which was okay because there wasn’t so much competition.

John Cleese said he won't be making the reboot with the BBC.
GB News

"Then John Birt came in and said if the BBC didn’t match the viewing figures that the commercial channels were getting they’d get their license revoked.

"So then they started going for the biggest audiences and they tended to go for the lowest common denominator while always denying they were doing that.

"If you look at a paper now from 1985 and looked at the TV shows available that evening and compare what they are now - basically in Britain we’ve gone from what was a middle-class culture with all its failings to a tabloid culture, and that is why there is so much of this screaming at people."

He added: "I want to deal with subjects that get people upset but I want to get sensible people with a sense of humour who will listen to each other and who will trade arguments instead of simply making speeches."

Fawlty Towers remains to be a classic within the genre, but the show has faced controversy in recent years.

One episode in particular was removed from UK TV a couple of years ago for containing ‘racial slurs’.

The episode, titled 'The Germans', is often remembered for the recurring line 'don't mention the war', which is said throughout.

Fawlty Towers is returning 40 years after the original.
Everett Collection Inc/Alamy Stock Photo

One scene also involves Basil having a discussion with hotel guest Major Gowen, which results in racial slurs concerning West Indians.

Wootton highlights this in the interview, describing how some of the old Fawlty Towers episodes have been censored or come with a warning.

In response, Cleese says: "There's a huge argument about wokery and some of it springs from a very good idea, which is let's try to be kind to people.

"But I believe it's become far too dominated by people who are frightened of offending people, and I think you have to allow offence."

Featured Image Credit: PA Images/Everett Collection Inc/Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: UK News, TV and Film