John Cleese to explore cancel culture in new Channel 4 series

·Contributor
·3-min read
John Cleese will present a series on cancel culture. (Getty)
John Cleese will present a series on cancel culture. (Getty)

John Cleese is set to front a new TV series exploring the phenomenon of cancel culture, which has seen some of his own past work heavily edited for modern audiences.

The Monty Python star will meet both those affected by being cancelled and those who are behind the cancelling in Channel 4 series John Cleese: Cancel Me.

Read more: John Cleese pokes fun at Hank Azaria's apology for Simpsons character Apu

He will question whether it is possible to make good comedy without offending someone, and look at the effects on the lives of people who have caused outrage with their work or comments.

One of Cleese's best known series is the 70s sitcom Fawlty Towers, which saw him on the receiving end of cancel culture last year when an episode titled The Germans was labelled with a content warning after briefly being removed from the BBC and UKTV while it was reviewed.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: John Cleese during a book signing at Waterstones Piccadilly to promote his book
John Cleese has previously spoken out against cancel culture. (Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

In 2013. the episode had some of its lines edited out, including racist slurs used by one of its characters.

After the episode was removed, Cleese tweeted: "The BBC is now run by a mixture of marketing people and petty bureaucrats."

He added: "I would have hoped that someone at the BBC would understand that there are two ways of making fun of human behaviour.

Read more: Piers Morgan defends JK Rowling as 'one of the most woke people you could meet'

"One is to attack it directly. The other is to have someone who is patently a figure of fun, speak up on behalf of that behaviour."

Cleese also made reference to racist character Alf Garnett from sitcoms Till Death Do Us Part and In Sickness And In Health.

He tweeted: "We laughed at Alf's reactionary views. Thus we discredited them, by laughing at him.

"Of course, there were people – very stupid people – who said 'Thank God someone is saying these things at last'. We laughed at these people too. Now they're taking decisions about BBC comedy."

Fawlty Towers has been the centre of a 'cancel culture' storm.
Fawlty Towers has been the centre of a 'cancel culture' storm.

He continued: "But it's not just stupidity. 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."

Talking about his forthcoming series, Cleese said: "I’m delighted to have a chance to find out, on camera, about all the aspects of so-called Political Correctness.

Actor John Cleese arriving at BBC Broadcasting House ahead of his appearance on The One Show in London. (Photo by Isabel Infantes/PA Images via Getty Images)
John Cleese will look at cancel culture for Channel 4. (Isabel Infantes/PA Images via Getty Images)

"There’s so much I really don’t understand, like: how the impeccable idea of 'Let’s all be kind to people' has been developed in some cases ad absurdum.

"I want to bring the various reasonings right out in the open so that people can be clearer in their minds what they agree with, what they don’t agree with, and what they still can’t make their mind up about."

Watch: John Cleese reveals why he would have to rewrite Fawlty Towers in 2020

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