BBC-owned streaming service removed episode of 1970s BBC sitcom due to racial slurs
12 June 2020
THE GUARDIAN — An episode of the classic 1970s sitcom Fawlty Towers is set to be reinstated on a BBC-owned streaming service after the service removed it because it contained “racial slurs”. …
Guidance and warnings highlighting “potentially offensive content and language” will feature alongside the episode, it added. UKTV, which is owned by BBC Studios, previously said it had temporarily made The Germans unavailable while it carried out a review.
The decision was criticised by John Cleese, who cowrote the show and played its main character, misanthropic hotel owner Basil Fawlty.
The episode included a scene in which Major Gowen, a regular guest at the hotel, uses racist language in relation to an anecdote about the West Indies cricket team.
Cleese told The Age newspaper: “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?”
He said there was a “really admirable feeling that we must make our society less discriminatory”, but said: “A lot of the people in charge now at the BBC just want to hang on to their jobs. If a few people get excited, they pacify them rather than standing their ground as they would have done 30 or 40 years ago.” …
The show’s temporary removal comes amid a re-energised debate on how best to deal with parts of well-known films and TV shows that are now deemed offensive by portions of modern audiences.
As the Black Lives Matter movement has returned to prominence following the death of George Floyd, broadcasters and streaming services have re-evaluated their content.
In an apparent reference to the removal of comedy programmes from its streaming services, Cleese had criticised BBC bosses in a series of tweets. He said that those tasked with making decisions at the corporation were “cowardly and gutless and contemptible”.
The broadcaster was run by a mixture of “marketing people and petty bureaucrats”, he added. […]