Saturday 10 December 2016

Michael Deacon: Why can't we laugh at the old jokes any more?

Michael Deacon

Published 26/01/2013 | 13:15

A 'RACIST' joke in Fawlty Towers has been cut because it might offend. Well, it might - if you didn’t get the joke

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Strange place, the past. It appears to have been full of people who had next to no understanding of 21st-century mores. For some reason, they all seem to have carried on as if it didn’t remotely matter how their 20th-century attitudes and language would be judged by us, their descendants and superiors, in 2013.

This week the BBC was confronted with this problem when airing a repeat of Fawlty Towers. The episode had a scene with the words “wogs” and “niggers” in it. The old major, played by Ballard Berkeley, is explaining the difference between the two. The line gets a big laugh from the studio audience. Or it used to. This time, the BBC cut the line out.

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