BBC censors Fawlty Towers

January 26th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Political Correctness strikes again. Stuff reports:

In the annals of comedy history, Fawlty Towers is considered one of the greatest television programs ever produced. And from among its episodes, The Germans, in which hotelier Basil Fawlty clashes with visiting German tourists, is one of its most-loved.

And yet in an act which many will see as political correctness gone mad, if not actual cultural vandalism, the venerable has censored a scene in which racist language is used.

In the scene, a hotel regular, the elderly Major Gowen (Ballard Berkeley), relates a conversation in which he corrected someone for using a particular racist slur, by suggesting they use another, equally racist, slur.

In the context of the episode, the line is clearly intended to mock the old-school British upper class for their inherent racism. In that sense, the joke is on Major Gowen, as it were, and not aimed at racial minorities.

I detest this sort of rewriting of episodes. People are mature enough to judge old comedy shows in the context they were made – and as reported the show is actually lampooning the Major.

The actual lines that are now censored are:

He kept referring to the Indians as niggers. No, no, no, no I said niggers are the West Indians. These people are wogs.

I guess Archie Bunker will be banned at some stage also!

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29 Responses to “BBC censors Fawlty Towers”

  1. duggledog (1,585 comments) says:

    Unbelievable.

    By the way it’s Fawlty Towers isn’t it?

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  2. anonymouse (721 comments) says:

    Gawd knows how the poor Fuzzy Wuzzies in Dad’s Army would fare…

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  3. Elaycee (4,403 comments) says:

    Pathetic.

    Next thing, we’ll have some moron complaining about the name of Wing Commander Guy Gibson’s dog in the Dambusters movie.

    Oh, oh…..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigger_(dog)

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  4. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    Yet more reason to regard the BBC with contempt. It is nothing more than a holding-pen for “cultural Marxists”. The lefties who have swept into the schools, universities and media and who now censor or rewrite everything to fit their own world-view (while denying everyone else the right to free speech).

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  5. Akaroa (581 comments) says:

    Ah well, this is just another indicator of how picky some sectors of society are getting about aspects of life that not so long ago were accepted as non-controversial, or, as in this instance, funny. I still think that Fawlty Towers line was funny and I’m glad that I’ve got uncensored DVDs of the entire output of Cleese and Co in Fawlty Towers.

    To me, this is just another indicator of the gradual erosion of free thought and opinion in today’s society. I won’t go into it in detail – you haven’t got the time to spend on the thoughts of Chairman Akaroa on ‘How Society and Personal Freedom is Going to Hell in a Hand-basket!’

    So many things that we used to think normal have been snatched from us, or are now considered ‘infra dig’ or- to use the current overworked term – ‘Non-PC’. Smoking in the cinema – with clouds of blue floating up through the projector’s throw to the screen. Great days!! Whistling at girls in the street. Etc., etc. I won’t go thought the whole lexicon of harmless pleasures that we took for granted and which we are now either denied or criticised for enjoying. I’d be here all night!!

    My own pet theory is that during the War, which is when I was growing up btw, life was so fragile that society had more to worry about than the esoteric elements of political correctness. We, in UK, really had something to get concerned about in those days – when you never knew if a bomb or V1 or V2 was going to come through your roof tomorrow – or whether you’d get a telegram to say that your husband/boyfriend/brother/son had been killed “Whilst on Active service’ or taken POW.

    I often say it – I really pity people who are today starting out on life’s journey. We of the older generations – in our 60s, 70s and 80s, have had the exciting times – good and bad and everything in between that went with them – without some PC grouch poking his/her unwanted and interfering nose into innocent pleasures and trying to mold society to some pallid, characterless, formless ‘no-offence-to-anyone-nohow’ sort of society.

    Rant over!!

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  6. Manolo (14,041 comments) says:

    The piss-weak modern English deserve every bit of the BBC and its political correctness.

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  7. RRM (10,008 comments) says:

    I think Basil Fawlty would have liked most of you lot…

    Another car strike. Marvellous isn’t it? Taxpayers pay ‘em each year, they get the money, go on strike. Its called Socialism. I mean if they don’t like cars why don’t they get themselves another bloody job designing cathedrals or composing violin concertos? The British Leyland Concerto in 4 movements, all of ‘em slow, with a 4hr tea break in between. I’ll tell you why, ‘cos they’re not interested in anything except lounging about on conveyor belts stuffing themselves with my money..”

    Well, of course it’s a rat. You have rats in Spain don’t you? Or did Franco have them all shot?”

    Sybil: Perhaps it would be simplest to have him put to S-L-E-E-P
    Basil: Who? Him or the rat? We might get a discount if we get them both done

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  8. RRM (10,008 comments) says:

    Oh and those censors are going to go apoplectic when they review old Famous Five tapes and discover that raging homosexual, Uncle Quentin… :eek:

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  9. Fox (206 comments) says:

    I’d very much like to laugh at this and say “HA, look at those stupid Poms. Something like that could never happen here!”
    However…….

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  10. liarbors a joke (1,069 comments) says:

    Wait till they review Love thy Neighbour, another 70’s english classic where the white neighbour continually refers to the indians living nextdoor as ‘sambo’ and ‘sooty’.

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  11. Michael (910 comments) says:

    I guess the uproariously hilarious condemnation of bigotry that is Blazing Saddles is out as well for it’s frequent use of the n-word.

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  12. duggledog (1,585 comments) says:

    RRM thanks for posting the script. Blood hilarious scene, the rant about socialists and also Franco. For god’s sake BBC it’s parody! Can’t wait to see Cleese’s reaction. The story is actually comedy in itself!

    For comedy to work, unfortunately it has to be brutal. Someone has to suffer, and someone’s gonna be offended. Aw.
    Don’t worry Fox – we’re a way off yet. Anyone remember EML’s sketch on Maori porn? Not one complaint.

    Are the poms going to ban ‘Little Britain’? No because one of the boys is fat AND gay. Twats

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  13. Viking2 (11,561 comments) says:

    What about that american guy with the braces. A real bigot he was.

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  14. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,753 comments) says:

    Guess the BBC won’t be playing Django Unchained.

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  15. Keeping Stock (10,413 comments) says:

    And all the while the BBC enabled Jimmy Savile’s unhealthy interest in teenaged girls, with countless BBC staff having walked in on him with a bird on his lap, but nothing said.

    Says it all really, I suppose. So whatever you do today; don’t mention the war!

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  16. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,753 comments) says:

    Anyone remember EML’s sketch on Maori porn?

    Oh yes, Anal Mana:

    Eating Media Lunch – Best Of episode

    Skip to 4:10.

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  17. jonno1 (82 comments) says:

    Keeping Stock @7.43: I did once, but I think I got away with it.

    No, really, I did. We had a middle-aged German house guest for a few months, and before he arrived my wife warned me not to mention the war (she knew of my obsession with Fawlty Towers). Well, on day one I did manage to mention the war (quite by accident of course). It turned out that our guest was a student of WWII, particularly of the hardware involved. So we spent many pleasant evenings watching the History channel. He could identify every plane, tank, gun, and more. I learned more from him than from the docos themselves, and we have remained good friends although he has now returned to Germany.

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  18. TheContrarian (1,091 comments) says:

    Don’t fuck with the classics.

    Anyway – I better go put the picture up….

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  19. Akaroa (581 comments) says:

    Re-Jonno1 at 9.55pm;

    Your comment reminded me that, when I was in the Air Force and serving in Bangkok in the 80s as an Attache, we made friends with the German Attache who had two teen-age sons.

    Evidently, when the boys were growing up in West Germany any mention of WW2 was strictly verboten.

    At the time I had a great selection of WW2 tapes – (Do you remember video tapes?) – dealing with various air warfare, episodes of WW2. “Target for Today”, ‘Night Bombers’, The Air Plan’, ‘Target Germany’ etc., etc. (Still gottem!)

    My German friend – like yours – was fascinated and used to borrow my tapes so that his boys – who had no idea of the War’s events – could self-educate on the subject.

    (Doubt whether many more will read this, but thought i’d add it all the same!!)

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  20. David Garrett (7,533 comments) says:

    Like everyone of my age, I have seen the episodes from which that dialogue (above) was taken 100 times…still screamingly funny damn near 40 years later..

    BTW what ridiculous name have they chosen in lieu of “nigger” for Guy Gibson’s dog?

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  21. noskire (842 comments) says:

    Come on, boys. Where’s your spirit? I don’t hear no singing. When you was slaves, you sang like birds. Come on, how about a gold ole nigger work song?

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  22. Ross Miller (1,706 comments) says:

    This is revisionist history making at its best/worst. It happened. You can’t pretend it didn’t.

    Is there any difference in doing this and ascerting that the holocoust didn’t happen?

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  23. Kea (13,359 comments) says:

    Why was the racism towards the Germans not removed ?

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  24. PhilP (163 comments) says:

    What ever you do “don’t mention the war” I mentioned it once and I think I got away with it. Classic Basil Fawlty.

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  25. Dean Papa (784 comments) says:

    Archie Bunker was of course the USA version of Alf Garnett.

    Cleese Apparently agreed with the cut, given the airing time of 7:30 in the evening. At least it isn’t being cut in order to fit commercials into a half-hour slot, as occurred with Blackadder here, a few years ago now.

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  26. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    I have watched these so many times.. that I drive my family nuts with quotes, renditions, re-re-re-re-recycled jokes. Some of the most enduring comedy of my lifetime, perhaps because that most of us identify – even secretly – with at least one of Basil’s neurotic tendencies.

    There were only 11 episodes produced. There are rumours that a 12th was written, but never saw the light of day. Perhaps the BBC’s interventionist tendencies were at work back in the mid 70’s :)

    Now, it’s time for dinner. Duck with lemon? Duck with orange? Duck surprise? Oo, what’s duck surprise? It’s duck without orange or lemon :)

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  27. mikenmild (11,684 comments) says:

    kk
    John Cleese said something along the lines of we only have three hours of Hamlet and we already have nine hours of Basil Fawlty, which should be enough.

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  28. mikenmild (11,684 comments) says:

    Apropos of Fawlty Towers, we saw Andrew Sachs (Manuel) last night in a smallish role in Quartet, which was an excellent film.

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  29. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    mm – agreed. A smile-worthy movie.

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