Fawlty Towers, in its own right, has become a prominent part of the British institution, with actors John Cleese, 80, becoming infamous for his role as Basil Fawlty on the BBC comedy. The programme aired on the broadcaster from 1975 to 1979 but has continued to be shown on UKTV, as other former shows have also done so. However, the Don’t Mention The War episode was temporarily removed from UKTV because it contained “racial slurs” which would be deemed as inappropriate in today’s political climate. However, the decision is now being reversed with action being taken to address the “offensive” material.
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In recent days, sitcoms such as Little Britain and Come Fly With Me have been removed from all streaming platforms due to the use of blackface.
Several comedians such as Keith Lemon star Leigh Francis, 47, have also apologised for using such material in sketches from many years ago.
This comes as the Black Lives Matter movement has sparked a further global conversation about racism in the United States and across the world, following the deaths of George Floyd and numerous black people as a result of police brutality.
The BBC were going to take further action by removing the controversial episode of Fawlty Towers from their archives as the instalment in question sees leading character Basil goose-stepping whilst shouting “don’t mention the war” in front of German visitors, as well as other offensive slurs.
However, UKTV, which is owned by BBC studios, have confirmed they will not be removing the episode after all.
A statement for the channel read: “We already offer guidance to viewers across some of our classic comedy titles, but we recognise that more contextual information can be required on our archive comedy, so 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.
“We will continue to look at what content is on offer as we always have done,” the statement continued.
Therefore, the shock U-turn will allow the episode to still be available in the archives, but prior to the episode, a message will be displayed to warn viewers of the content included.
Following the decision to reinstate the episode, fans have taken to social media to commend the broadcaster’s actions.
One viewer wrote on Twitter: “@UKTV The perfect, measured and intelligent response to a difficult situation. Thank you. #fawltytowers.”
Another added: “Even if it’s not unjust for content to be censored by those with rights to it, reinstating #fawltytowers is the right call. But sensibilities also move on, so warnings about language are the least one should expect. #blacklivesmatter #justice #Liberty.”
Whilst a third commented on the micro-blogging site: “Common Sense prevails #fawltytowers.”
Britain’s Got Talent hosts Ant McPartlin, 44, and Dec Donnelly, 44, have publicly apologised for any offence they may have caused from a past sketch on their show, Saturday Night Takeaway.
A statement read on their Instagram and Twitter accounts: “We realise that this was wrong and want to say that we are sincerely sorry to everyone that we offended.
“We purposely stopped doing this several years ago and certainly would not make these sketches today.
“We had already taken steps to ensure footage was taken down and have again recently confirmed with ITV that these segments, and any other historical content that could cause offence, does not appear on either the ITV Hub or the Saturday Night Takeaway YouTube Channel.”
Fawlty Towers is available to watch on UKTV.