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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Gregor Young

John Cleese's most controversial moments as Fawlty Towers reboot announced

JOHN Cleese is known for his role in comedy troupe Monty Python in a career spanning over six decades.

He’s also been part of some major franchises including Harry Potter and Shrek although he has come under fire for some of his views.

With news that Cleese and his daughter are set to helm a new series of Fawlty Towers, we took a look back through some of the comedian’s most controversial moments.

‘Trans folk’ row

Cleese took to social media in support of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling where he said he was “not that interested in trans folks”.

The full tweet read: “I’m afraid I’m not that interested in trans folks. I just hope they’re happy and that people treat them kindly.

“Right now I’m more focussed on threats to democracy in America, the rampant corruption in the UK, the appalling British press, the revelations about police brutality…”

When one user asked Cleese why he couldn’t just “let people be who they want to be”, he replied with: “Deep down, I want to be a Cambodian police woman. Is that allowed, or am I being unrealistic.”

Slavery joke

Cleese has previously been an outspoken critic of "political correctness" in comedy down the years.

In an advert for a GB News show, he said his new programme would be aimed at a “much neglected demographic” of viewers “who are completely out of touch”.

Speaking at an event in Texas last year, Cleese said: “[People] get competitive about this business of being oppressed?

“You do know the British have been slaves twice, right?”

At the end of the event, he joked that he was “in favour of global warming”.

“The thing is, I’m going to be dead soon. That’s why I’m in favour of global warming – I don’t want to be cold ever again”, he said.

Controversial Fawlty Towers episode

The Germans is the sixth episode in the first series of the popular sitcom, first broadcast in 1975.

In the episode, the lead character Basil (Cleese) offends some German guests who stay at the hotel as he deals with the effects of a concussion.

He tells his staff “don’t mention the war” but then makes multiple references to the Second World War, does an impression of Adolf Hitler and makes a Nazi salute.

The episode faced a lot of backlash when first broadcast and Cleese stated his intention was to “make fun of the British obsession with the war”.

In 2013, the BBC edited out racial slurs made by The Major.

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