United Kingdom

BBC will edit out racist remarks made by Major Gowen in Fawlty Towers

The BBC will edit out racist remarks made by Major Gowen in Fawlty Towers when the show is re-aired next week.   

The broadcaster will remove comments by the retired old soldier in the iconic comedy series, which ran for 12 episodes during the 1970s, when the episodes are aired in its Festival of Funny from Monday.

The move comes less than a year after actor John Cleese, who played Basil Fawlty in the British sitcom, slammed the BBC-owned UKTV for removing an episode of Fawlty Towers which featured racist language made by the Major.

Cleese branded the channel 'stupid' for not realising the show was mocking the Major's use of the 'n-word' and added: 'We were not supporting his views, we were making fun of them.'

Racist remarks made by Major Gowen, played by Ballard Berkeley, in Fawlty Towers will be edited out by the BBC

The broadcaster will air iconic comedy series, which ran for 12 episodes, in its Festival of Funny from Monday. Pictured: Connie Booth, John Cleese, Andrew Sachs and Prunella Scales in the comedy show

The episode first aired in 1975 and sees Basil Fawlty goose-stepping around while shouting 'don't mention the war' in front of a group of visiting Germans. 

It also contains scenes showing the long-term hotel resident Major Gowen, played by Ballard Berkeley, recall the time he took a female friend to watch a game of cricket at The Oval.

The Major says: 'The strange thing was that throughout the morning she kept referring to the Indians as n*****s.' He adds: ' 'No, no, no, no,' I said, 'n*****s are West Indians, these people are w**s'.

'No, no, no,' she said, 'all cricketers are n*****s'.'

Speaking from his home in LA last year, Cleese told TheAge: '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?' 

Cleese later tweeted: 'The BBC is now run by a mixture of marketing people and petty bureaucrats. 

Last year John Cleese, who played Basil Fawlty in the British sitcom, slammed the BBC-owned UKTV for removing an episode of Fawlty Towers

The BBC removed the offensive language from a BBC2 pre-watershed repeat in 2013 on the grounds public attitudes had 'changed significantly'

'It used to have a large sprinkling of people who'd actually made programmes. Not any more. 

'So BBC decisions are made by persons whose main concern is not losing their jobs. That's why they're so cowardly and gutless and contemptible. I rest my case.' 

A UKTV spokesman said at the time: '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.

'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. 

In 2013, the BBC removed the offensive language from a BBC2 pre-watershed repeat on the grounds public attitudes had 'changed significantly', with the full backing of writer Cleese.    

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