Fawlty Towers deleted by UKTV

Thursday 11th June 2020, 9:17pm

  • Fawlty Towers episode The Germans has been removed from UKTV Play
  • The network says: "The episode contains racial slurs so we are taking the episode down while we review it"
  • Talking about Major Gowen's words, John Cleese says: "We were not supporting his views, we were making fun of them"
Saturday 13th June: UKTV has now announced it will reinstate the episode alongside a warning about its contents.

They say: "We will be adding extra guidance and warnings to the front of programmes to highlight potentially offensive content and language. We will reinstate Fawlty Towers once that extra guidance has been added, which we expect will be in the coming days."

Fawlty Towers. Image shows from L to R: Basil Fawlty (John Cleese), Manuel (Andrew Sachs). Copyright: BBC.

UKTV has censured an episode of Fawlty Towers

The hotel sitcom's iconic episode The Germans has been removed from UKTV Play, the catch-up and streaming platform of the broadcaster that owns channels including Dave, Yesterday and Gold.

All eleven other episodes of the hit 1970s sitcom, written by and starring John Cleese and Connie Booth, remain available to view, although it is unclear at present whether edits have been made to their content.

Originally broadcast on Friday 24th October 1975 as the last episode in the sitcom's first series, The Germans is perhaps the most celebrated episode of the comedy and sees a German family arrive to stay at the eponymous hotel.

When Basil, the irascible owner-manager, receives a blow to the head, his last iota of restraint and decorum is lost, and he berates the Germans with undiplomatic quips about the Second World War, before goose-stepping around the building in a mad daze.

Fawlty Towers. Image shows from L to R: Basil Fawlty (John Cleese), Major Gowen (Ballard Berkeley). Copyright: BBC.

However, the episode's deletion appears to be due to the racist terms used by the hotel's elderly, doddering resident Major Gowen in relation to a cricket match. Despite even the argumentative, short-tempered Fawlty calling him out on his use of the language - outdated by the time of the programme's mid-70s production - the scene has often been cut from broadcasts of the episode in the last decade.

Having originally refused to comment, the network has now issued a statement saying: "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."

Speaking to an Australian newspaper, John Cleese said on Friday morning: "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.

"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 comes amidst racial-cultural tensions that have also seen comedies including The Mighty Boosh, Little Britain, The League Of Gentlemen, Come Fly With Me and Bo' Selecta! removed from various streaming platforms in the past week. Affected services now include UKTV Play, BBC iPlayer, All 4, Netflix and BritBox.

All episodes of Fawlty Towers remain available to purchase on DVD and Blu-ray at the time of writing.


For updates, click the button below.

 

Fawlty Towers - The Complete Collection

Fawlty Towers - The Complete Collection

Every episode of the classic BBC BAFTA-winning sitcom, remastered and upscaled to high definition for the first time ever.

Basil Fawlty is a much put-upon, hard-working hotel manager whose life is plagued by dead guests, hotel inspectors and riff-raff. Of course his biggest headache is his 'little nest of vipers' - his nagging wife Sibyl. Together they run their hotel, Fawlty Towers, with a little help from the unflappable Polly, and Manuel, the trainee waiter from Barcelona with marginally more intelligence than a monkey.

First released: Monday 18th November 2019

  • Distributor: BBC Studios
  • Region: All regions
  • Discs: 3
  • Minutes: 370
  • Subtitles: English
  • Catalogue: BBCBD0494

musicMagpie Buy and sell old and new items
Search for this product on eBay

Fawlty Towers - The Complete Collection Remastered

Fawlty Towers - The Complete Collection Remastered

This special edition marks the 30th Anniversary of one of the greatest situation comedies British television has ever seen. John Cleese provides audio commentaries on all 12 episodes.

First released: Monday 19th October 2009

  • Distributor: 2 Entertain
  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 3
  • Subtitles: English
  • Catalogue: BBCDVD2795

musicMagpie Buy and sell old and new items
Search for this product on eBay


Related Guides

Latest news