John Cleese has blasted the removal of a controversial episode of 'Fawlty Towers' from streaming service UKTV as "stupid".

John Cleese

John Cleese

UKTV, owned by the BBC, has taken down the 'The Germans' episode, which features Cleese's character Basil Fawlty shouting the phrase "Don't mention the war", while goose-stepping around his hotel.

The original episode also featured hotel guest Major Gowen using racist language when telling an anecdote about the West Indies cricket team, but many broadcasters had previously removed those slurs from the episode.

Cleese, 80, who starred in and co-wrote the comedy series with Connie Booth, 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.

"The Major was an old fossil left over from decades before. We were not supporting his views, we were making fun of them. If they can't see that, if people are too stupid to see that, what can one say?

"'Fawlty Towers' has given a large number of people a great deal of happiness, why would you want to stop that. It reminds me of the definition of a Scottish Presbyterian as someone who has a nasty, sneaking feeling that someone, somewhere, is having a good time.

"A lot of the people in charge now at the BBC just want to hang onto their jobs. If a few people get excited they pacify them rather than standing their ground as they would have done 30 or 40 years ago."

No reason has been given for the removal of the episode and a spokesperson for UKTV told The Sun: "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."

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