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12 Jun, 2020 18:40

Irony is DEAD: Axed episode of Fawlty Towers shows that UKTV fun sponges have lost all sense of reality

Irony is DEAD: Axed episode of Fawlty Towers shows that UKTV fun sponges have lost all sense of reality

The classic Fawlty Towers episode “The Germans”, which hilariously mocks xenophobia, has been pulled for… wait for it… xenophobia. This marks a new low for Britain’s culture police.

I love Fawlty Towers. I unapologetically and unironically adore it. To my mind it is the absolute pinnacle of its genre. It is to sitcoms what Michelangelo’s David is to sculpture. Which is why pulling its most famous episode, “The Germans”, from BBC streaming service UKTV because of alleged xenophobia is as wanton an act of cultural vandalism as chipping off David’s todger because someone might be offended by a marble schlong.

In Britain, the episode is so famous that the phrase “don’t mention the war” has become instantly recognisable. As an expression, it is as British as “God save the Queen” and “excuse me”. As far as lines from TV shows go, it is almost impossible to think of a more famous one.

In the long list of British comedies that have fallen victim to the woke-virus this week – Little Britain, Come Fly With Me, The Mighty Boosh and Bo’ Selecta to name but a few – this is the most high-profile scalp. This particular disease seems to have a significantly higher mortality rate than Covid-19, at least in the painfully PC corridors of UK comedy broadcasting.

The episode has been pulled because it is apparently “xenophobic”. It had already had one of its gags edited out in 2013 over the use of racial slurs, but now the entire episode has been removed.

This is because the main character, Basil Fawlty – played by John Cleese – ends up in hospital and is surprised to be treated by a black doctor. While the ethnicity of the physician is obviously not something one would even comment on in 2020, there were markedly fewer doctors of Afro-Caribbean heritage in 1970s Torquay.

Even so, it seems to me quite clear that the butt of the joke in this case is Basil for his reaction, and not the character of the doctor. This is evidenced by the fact that Basil’s wife Sybil, who is also in hospital, doesn’t pass any comment or show any reaction to the doctor’s race. The episode is mocking xenophobia, not engaging in it, which really becomes obvious when we get to its most iconic sequence, Basil’s interaction with the titular “Germans”.

Delirious from a knock on the bonce after a mounted moose head falls on him, Basil is so desperate to not mention the war when he is conversing with the Germans that it becomes all he can talk about. The amount of classic lines packed into these five minutes of television is possibly the highest hit rate ever broadcast.

From Basil’s response to a guest who says they didn’t start talking about the war first (“yes you did, you invaded Poland”) to reading out their food order, including dishes like a “prawn Goebbels” and a “Herman Goering”, to the iconic goose-stepping scene, it is, in a very crowded field, possibly John Cleese’s greatest performance. But none of that matters to the thought police at the BBC, and now “The Germans” is verboten.

The crushing irony about this whole sorry affair is that the entire point of the episode is that Basil is making an arse out of himself because he is so desperate not to appear xenophobic. He is the butt of the joke, not the Germans, and not the black doctor, who both come out of the episode in a markedly better light as the only sane people in the room.

We Brits used to be proud of our sense of humour. For years we have mocked our American cousins for their supposed inability to “get” irony, but now it appears to be us who can’t take a joke. Or rather, our “cultural betters” have decided that we might not be laughing in the right way at something, so we can’t have it anymore.

Commenting on the whole affair, John Cleese told the Sydney Morning Herald: “One of the things I’ve learned in the last 180 years is that people have very different senses of humour. Some of them understand that if you put nonsense words into the mouth of someone you want to make fun of, you’re not broadcasting their views, you’re making fun of them. If people are too stupid to see that, what can one say?

This erasing of history has nothing to do with the death of George Floyd, or promoting racial harmony, it is a provocation. The woke media class are daring the British public to kick back against their cultural crusade. This is, ironically, their way of “invading Poland” – UKTV may as well have issued a statement saying, “Come and have a go then, bigot”. It might seem petty to get this worked up about a sitcom, but those of us who oppose this cultural revolution need to make it very clear that up with this we will not put.

Lenin, who I’m sure is feted by the people banning all these comedies, once said: “You probe with bayonets: if you find mush, you push. If you find steel, you withdraw.”

It’s about time we showed these censorious fun sponges a bit of steel, because they won’t stop until we do.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.