The BBC will take out the following ‘offensive’ remarks made by Major Gowen in Fawlty Towers

March 3, 2021

Fawlty Towers is being re-aired next week in the BBC’s Festival of Funny next Monday. 

The classic comedy series began in 1975 and ran for 12 episodes. In 2019, it was voted ‘greatest ever British TV sitcom’ by the Radio Times.

In the episode, The Germans, racist remarks were made by Major Gowen. These comments are going to be removed by The BBC when the show is broadcasted again next week. 

It’s been less than a year since BBC-Owned UKTV removed an episode of Fawlty Towers which featured racist language by the retired soldier. 

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John Cleese called the channel ‘stupid’ for not realising they were mocking the major when he used this language adding, ‘We were not supporting his views, we were making fun of them.’

The sixth episode of the first series sees Basil Fawlty goose-stepping around the hotel lobby shouting, “don’t mention the war, in front of a group of German visitors. 

The same episode contains scenes of Major Gowen, who is a long-term visitor at Fawlty Towers hotel, recalling the time he took a female friend to watch cricket at The Oval.

‘The strange thing was that throughout the morning she kept referring to the Indians as n*****s.’ He adds: ‘ ‘No, no, no, no,’ I said, ‘n*****s are West Indians, these people are w**s’

No, no, no,’ she said, ‘all cricketers are n*****s’.’

John Cleese spoke about the comments made by the Major last year in his LA home. Talking to TheAge, he said: ‘One of the things I’ve learned in the last 180 years is that people have very different senses of humour.

‘Some of them understand that if you put nonsense words into the mouth of someone you want to make fun of you’re not broadcasting their views, you’re making fun of them.’

He added: ‘The Major was an old fossil left over from decades before. We were not supporting his views, we were making fun of them. If they can’t see that, if people are too stupid to see that, what can one say?’

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He later tweeted: ‘The BBC is now run by a mixture of marketing people and petty bureaucrats. 

‘It used to have a large sprinkling of people who’d actually made programmes. Not any more.
‘So BBC decisions are made by persons whose main concern is not losing their jobs. That’s why they’re so cowardly and gutless and contemptible. I rest my case.’ 

Last year, a UKTV spokesman said ‘UKTV has temporarily removed an episode of Fawlty Towers ‘The Germans’ from Gold’s Box Set.

‘The episode contains racial slurs so we are taking the episode down while we review it.

‘We regularly review older content to ensure it meets audience expectations and are particularly aware of the impact of outdated language.

‘Some shows carry warnings and others are edited. We want to take time to consider our options for this episode. 

It is not the first time the comments have been removed from The BBC. Writer John Cleese supported the idea for BBC2 to remove the language used on a pre-watershed repeat in 2013. The reason they were removed from air was that public attitudes had ‘changed significantly’.

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  1. Archie Mcnaughton March 3, 2021 at 9:57 pm

    How I made to this age(72),having watched all the crazy TV shows that were on back then, makes me appreciate what we had. A sense of humour.

  2. Jamie Dixon March 3, 2021 at 11:54 pm

    Why are people trying to change history, if you are going to be offended by something, move on and leave alone. Remember you cannot change the past, but you can make a difference to the future.

  3. Simon Ireland March 4, 2021 at 8:24 am

    Typical BBC, wading with its hobnailed boots, and casting its scythe across many landmark TV comedy series of yesteryear, all because of the Personal views of people, many of whom weren’t around when these nuggets of TV were originally aired (!).

    It’s more than likely that it’s Political correctness which has caused a huge divide in the general viewing public on the whole in my opinion, and there’s no doubt that the said BBC will probably EDIT this comment of mine too (!).

  4. Shirley Latinsky March 4, 2021 at 10:43 am

    It is getting beyond tiresome, how stupid, narrow minded, PC individuals such as BBC employees try to change everything shown on TV that “might” offend some of the snowflake generation. Guess what, even my German husband laughed at that scene. Please don’t insult our intelligence, and allow us to have a sense of humour.

  5. barbra perry March 4, 2021 at 1:43 pm

    the Majors remarks are funny, ask any German, this series was a resounding success in Germany

  6. Mary J Boyle March 4, 2021 at 3:31 pm

    It is unfortunate that so many cannot see that by removing many things from the past much of human history is also being erased. When reality is erased we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of our past. Just look to the past 4-5 years in the USA–we were and probably will be again, be in deep danger of becoming a true puppet state of Putin because of the lies told by Donald Trump and perpetuated by a political party co-opted by him. Humor, in all its forms including satire and sarcasm are a treasure trove of human history and should be preserved. I find it incredibly interesting that episodes of sitcoms are being edited or removed by ANY rather than calling out the real problems going on in today’s world.

  7. KAREN WARNE March 4, 2021 at 4:46 pm


  8. John McNeill March 4, 2021 at 8:48 pm

    The BBC really do need to join the real world.
    I was under the impression that censorship had been consigned to history along with bureaucratic dinosaurs.

  9. KD March 4, 2021 at 10:54 pm

    I challenge anybody born in the noughties to watch Love Thy Neighbour when views were very different in the70’s. Very racist and completely unacceptable today, but the the idiot was the “White honky” – not my phrase but the phrase the show thought was acceptable at the time.

  10. Ciaran Boyle March 5, 2021 at 1:11 am

    Farther ted , bottom. Rab c nesbitt.


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