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Episode of 'Fawlty Towers' is pulled over racial slurs

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John Cleese played hotel owner Basil Fawlty. Photo: Isabel Infantes/PA Wire

John Cleese played hotel owner Basil Fawlty. Photo: Isabel Infantes/PA Wire

PA

John Cleese played hotel owner Basil Fawlty. Photo: Isabel Infantes/PA Wire

One of the most memorable episodes of one of the most popular sitcoms of all time has been withdrawn from a streaming service because of numerous racial slurs.

UKTV, a streaming service owned by the BBC, confirmed yesterday it was temporarily removing the 1975 'Fawlty Towers' episode 'The Germans'.

The decision is part of a backlash against racism in the wake of the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee to his neck.

That backlash has been most visibly seen in Britain in the protests against statues of slave traders and other historic figures associated with imperialism and racism.

In the episode, hotel owner Basil Fawlty is seen rocking back when a black man approaches him in the hospital where his wife Sybil is readying for surgery on an in-growing toenail, only to find out that he's the doctor.

Fawlty, who is played by John Cleese of 'Monty Python' fame, is also seen goose-stepping around while shouting "don't mention the war" in front of a group of visiting Germans after a bout of concussion.

Outdated

But what's causing particular offence is a scene involving one of the hotel's long-time guests, an elderly major, who uses deeply offensive language about the West Indies and India cricket teams.

"The episode contains racial slurs so we are taking it down while we review it," a spokesman for UKTV said. "We regularly review older content to ensure it meets audience expectations and are particularly aware of the impact of outdated language."

The spokesman said the company wants to "take time" to consider options.

Other shows on the service carry warnings or are edited.

The full episode is still being aired on Netflix and on Britbox, which is half-owned by the BBC, without any warnings or editing.

Cleese has criticised the decision, describing those who fail to see the episode is a critique of racism rather than an endorsement of it as "stupid".

Irish Independent