Okay to mention the war: BBC to reinstate Fawlty Towers episode, with advisory
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Okay to mention the war: BBC to reinstate Fawlty Towers episode, with advisory

Classic episode ‘The Germans’ will be brought back to UKTV with added ‘extra guidance and warnings’ about ‘potentially offensive content and language’

John Cleese as Basil Fawlty in a scene from 'The Germans' episode of the TV comedy series Fawlty Towers (Screen Capture: YouTube)
John Cleese as Basil Fawlty in a scene from 'The Germans' episode of the TV comedy series Fawlty Towers (Screen Capture: YouTube)

A streaming service owned by the BBC will restore a classic episode of 1970s comedy “Fawlty Towers” in the coming days after temporarily removing it due to racial slurs.

UKTV said “The Germans” would be reinstated to the service with added “extra guidance and warnings” about “potentially offensive content and language.”

“The Germans” is the final episode of the first season of the British comedy starring John Cleese, which coined the catchphrase “Don’t mention the war!”

In its initial message on Twitter on Friday, UKTV said the episode “contains racial slurs so we are taking the episode down while we review it.” It said it was “particularly aware of the impact of outdated language.”

The tweet garnered some 2,000 replies, many of which said the move was the result of political correctness gone mad and vowing to boycott the service over the decision.

The episode includes Cleese goose-stepping around his Torquay hotel while shouting the phrase “Don’t mention the war!” in order to not offend his German guests.

The “outdated language” mentioned by UKTV is likely a reference to a scene in which Major Gowen, a regular guest at the hotel, uses strong racist language in relation to an anecdote about the West Indies cricket team.

Many broadcasters have already edited out this part of the program but it remains on the version hosted by Netflix, as it did on UKTV.

“Fawlty Towers” centers around owner Basil Fawlty, played by Cleese, whose acidic wit and rude behavior offers the irreverent backdrop to efforts to run a hotel visited by eccentric guests.

Even though only 12 episodes were made, it was voted number one in the British Film Institute’s 100 Greatest Television Programs in 2000.

It’s not the only “classic” production to face review in the wake of the George Floyd protests.

This week, HBO Max announced that it was temporarily removing “Gone With the Wind” from its streaming library in order to add historical context to the 1939 film long criticized for romanticizing slavery and the Civil War-era South.

In addition, Paramount Network dropped the long-running reality series “Cops” after 33 seasons and the BBC also removed episodes of “Little Britain,” a comedy series that featured a character in blackface, from its streaming service.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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