Why has Fawlty Towers' The Germans episode been removed from UKTV? John Cleese reacts

12 June 2020, 10:14 | Updated: 12 June 2020, 10:56

John Cleese, Connie Booth and Andrew Sachs in Fawlty Towers
John Cleese, Connie Booth and Andrew Sachs in Fawlty Towers. Picture: Shutterstock

One of the most famous episodes of the '70s sitcom has been temporarily removed from UKTV due to "racial slurs". Read their full statement and find out why here.

Fawlty Towers has hit the headlines this week as one of its most famous episodes, The Germans, has been temporarily removed from a streaming site due to "racial slurs".

The famous British sitcom starring John Cleese as hotel owner Basil Fawlty has long been repeated since it first aired in 1975. However, today UKTV - a commercial subsidiary of the BBC - has announced that it has temporarily taken down an episode to consider their options regarding its content.

They wrote on their official Twitter account: "UKTV has temporarily removed an episode of Fawlty Towers 'The Germans' from a Gold Box Set. The episode contains racial slurs so we are taking the episode down while we review it. We regularly review older content to ensure it meets audience expectations and are particularly aware of the impact of outdated language. Some shows carry warnings and others are edited. We want to take time to consider our options for this episode."

READ MORE: Why has Little Britain been removed from streaming platforms?

The move comes amid the Black Lives Matter movement protests which were prompted by the death of George Floyd while under police arrest.

Some have taken to Twitter to criticise the decision, thinking that jokes towards the Germans or the presence of Spanish waiter Manuel are to blame.

However, it is believed the offending scene from the episode - which first aired in 1975 - features a Major, played by Ballard Berkeley.

In the clip, where the Major recalls the time he took his girlfriend to see India playing England at cricket at the Oval, he says: "The strange thing was that throughout the morning, she kept referring to the Indians as "n*****s. No, no, I said. n*****s are The West Indians, these people are w**s! No, no, she said: all cricketers are n******s."

As The Major wanders off, Fawlty says to himself: "Drunken old sod."

READ MORE: Netflix drops The Mighty Boosh and The League Of Gentlemen after blackface criticism

Co-creator John Cleese has since responded to the move, calling it "stupid".

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: “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?

"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."

The move has come as Little Britain and Come Fly With Me was released from BBC iPlayer, Netflix and Britbox due to their use of blackface.

The Mighty Boosh and The League of Gentlemen have also been removed from Netflix this week.

READ MORE: Why has The Inbetweeners been removed from YouTube? Fans react as show disappears

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