A 1975 episode of that features John Cleese repeatedly saying ‘don’t mention the war’ has been removed from the BBC-owned streaming service UKTV.
The episode, deemed to be a classic in the eyes of many comedy fans, sees John Cleese as Basil Fawlty tiptoeing around the Torquay-based hotel while loudly hush-whispering the famed phrase.
While UKTV has refused to explain why this particular episode has been cherry picked for removal, it comes as broadcasters re-assess the content of old British television, amid the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests.
We aren’t commenting on individual titles. However, we regularly review our programmes, and make edits, add warnings and make schedule changes where necessary to ensure that our channels meet the expectations of our audience.
It’s unclear what the specific reason for removing this particular episode was, however it’s most likely down the fact there are a few strong references to race, as Basil can’t stop making wartime comments to a German family.
In one scene, Major Gowen, who is a regular guest at the hotel, uses strong racist language when referring to the West Indies cricket team. Many broadcasters opted to edit this scene out around a decade ago, so it could still be shown on TV, however the original version can still be heard on Netflix.
In another scene from the same 1975 episode, Basil displays his horror at being served by a black doctor in hospital – something which had not been edited out by broadcasters previously.
At the moment, only this one episode has been removed from the streaming service, while the other 11 episodes of remain for viewing on the paid streaming service.
There are mounting pressures to remove entertainment programmes which make light of racism, prompting many broadcasters to analyse their back catalogue with scrutiny.
It comes as the Black Lives Matter movement forces companies to address systemic racism and how they could be contributing towards it.
The BBC has already removed comedy sketch show from iPlayer following scrutiny of the use of its blackface by David Williams and Matt Lucas. The comedy duo’s has also been taken down.
Meanwhile, Netflix has pulled and as a result of blackface, however the BBC has confirmed these shows would remain on iPlayer.