‘You have to tread very carefully’: Paul Whitehouse reflects on state of comedy amid Fawlty Towers revival
Paul Whitehouse was asked if he had any advice for John Cleese following the news that the Monty Python star was reviving his hit Seventies sitcom, Fawlty Towers.
Earlier this month, Cleese announced that he and his daughter Camilla Cleese would be writing and starring in the reboot.
Fellow veteran comedic actor Whitehouse was asked about the revival by Andrew Marr on his eponymous LBC talk show on Tuesday (21 February).
“You think I'm going to give Cleese advice? Don’t do it, John! Get someone younger in!” Whitehouse joked.
Marr then asked the Harry and Paul star about the state of comedy and the acceptability of jokes made years ago.
“Things you could say last year, you have to reevaluate now and you have to tread very carefully,” the 64-year-old replied.
“There’s a zeal about it – of addressing, perhaps, issues that have gone unaddressed in the past,” Whitehouse said, adding that there were times when censorship had gone “a bit too far”.
“As we all know, there have been so many injustices in society that need to be addressed, and as I say, we’ve probably gone too far in our attempt to suppress those.”
On performing impressions, Whitehouse continued: “If I interact with my kids and even do an accent these days, they look askance at me, and Bob [Mortimer] and I discuss that – what accents we’re allowed to do. And that line we’ve come to is not of the oppressed.”
Whitehouse currently appears on the popular BBC fishing show Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing alongside his fellow comic.
Cleese has become known in recent years for raging against “woke” culture and alleged censorship in comedy.
The actor told fans that the Fawlty Towers reboot – which will follow Basil discovering he has a secret daughter and struggling to navigate the modern world – won’t be an “anti-woke nightmare”.
On Monday (20 February), the actor issued a sarcastic apology to critics who urged that Fawlty Towers should be left alone.
“I must apologise,” he wrote. “I had no idea that the idea of writing a new sitcom with my daughter would cause so much anger and distress.
“I truly meant no harm. Naively, I thought it might be fun. But I feel terrible about having released this idea of negative emotion. Please forgive me.”
The news of a revival came as somewhat of a surprise, given that Cleese appeared to dismiss the possibility during an interview with The Independent in 2018.