BBC-owned streaming service UKTV has removed the ‘Don’t mention the war’ episode of sitcom classic Fawlty Towers, as broadcasters continue to cull content perceived to be insensitive from their platforms.
The episode of the 1970s sitcom in which hotel proprietor Basil Fawlty, played by John Cleese, goose-steps while shouting “Don’t mention the war!” has been removed from the BBC-controlled catch-up service.
The streaming platform last night said it had temporarily made the Fawlty Towers episode unavailable while it conducts a review of its portfolio.
The scene in question, which sees Cleese refer to a German man as a “kraut”, is listed as a “BBC Comedy Great” on the broadcaster’s official Youtube channel.
The original broadcast of the episode, titled The Germans, had also included strong racist language in a joke relating to the West Indian cricket team, but broadcasters started to edit out the scene as far back as a decade ago.
Health minister Edward Argar today warned against “airbrushing” history, following a slew of shows being pulled from streaming platforms.
This week Little Britain was removed from BBC iPlayer, Gone With The Wind was removed from HBO, and The Mighty Boosh and League of Gentlemen were pulled from Netflix.
Argar told Sky News that it was “absolutely right” to have an open debate about the past “warts and all”, but stressed we had to be “very careful about airbrushing that history”.
It comes as the UK faces a moment of cultural reckoning following protests in the US over the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd by a policeman.
Last night, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in Westminster confirmed it will remove two statues linked to the slave trade, after a statue of Edward Colston was pulled down in Bristol during protests last weekend.
Early this morning, an iconic statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square and the Cenotaph were both covered up after being graffitied during demonstrations.
This week London mayor Sadiq Khan launched a review of statues around the capital commemorating colonial figures.