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Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:15 AM

BBC censors 'racist' Fawlty Towers the germans episode

In the annals of comedy history, Fawlty Towers is considered one of the greatest television programs ever produced. And from among its episodes, The Germans, in which hotelier Basil Fawlty clashes with visiting German tourists, is one of its most-loved.

And yet in an act which many will see as political correctness gone mad, if not actual cultural vandalism, the venerable BBC has censored a scene in which racist language is used.

In the scene, a hotel regular, the elderly Major Gowen (Ballard Berkeley), relates a conversation in which he corrected someone for using a particular racist slur, by suggesting they use another, equally racist, slur.

In the context of the episode, the line is clearly intended to mock the old-school British upper class for their inherent racism. In that sense, the joke is on Major Gowen, as it were, and not aimed at racial minorities.

In a curious twist, though, other culturally insensitive jokes in the episode - such as Basil Fawlty goose-stepping in front of the German tourists, saying ''sieg heil'' while using a finger to simulate the moustache of German dictator Adolf Hitler and referring to a German tourist as ''a stupid Kraut'' - were not cut.

A perceived sensitivity to potentially offensive material has seen some classic British comedies and comedians effectively shelved. Love Thy Neighbour, which ran from 1972 to 1976 and focused on the feuding husbands of a black and white couple who lived next door to each other, is rarely seen in Britain.


http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/tv/8222304/BBC-censors-racist-Fawlty-Towers


This episode and TV show is considered Britain's funniest it made fun of aristocracy and anyone else.... shame on the BBC.

28 replies, 2769 views

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Reply BBC censors 'racist' Fawlty Towers the germans episode (Original post)
Ichingcarpenter Jan 2013 OP
samsingh Jan 2013 #1
Ichingcarpenter Jan 2013 #2
samsingh Jan 2013 #23
Nye Bevan Jan 2013 #3
Ichingcarpenter Jan 2013 #4
Nye Bevan Jan 2013 #7
ananda Jan 2013 #16
liberal_at_heart Jan 2013 #5
Go Vols Jan 2013 #6
redqueen Jan 2013 #9
liberal_at_heart Jan 2013 #12
redqueen Jan 2013 #13
liberal_at_heart Jan 2013 #14
deutsey Jan 2013 #19
TlalocW Jan 2013 #8
FrodosPet Jan 2013 #10
deutsey Jan 2013 #20
eShirl Jan 2013 #24
CBHagman Jan 2013 #11
HipChick Jan 2013 #15
muriel_volestrangler Jan 2013 #17
truebrit71 Jan 2013 #18
Nye Bevan Jan 2013 #21
muriel_volestrangler Jan 2013 #27
Recursion Jan 2013 #22
Zoeisright Jan 2013 #25
riqster Jan 2013 #26
on point Jan 2013 #28

Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:18 AM

1. Faulty Towers is fantastic!

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Response to samsingh (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:22 AM

2. The link shows the deleted scene

which you can't deal with.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 03:11 PM

23. i'm not sure what you're saying

the scene should not have been censored.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:24 AM

3. Well, the BBC has certainly become more conscious of racism since 1978.

WARNING..... watch and SQUIRM.

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:26 AM

4. The faulty tower's scene cut

showed the racism of the aristocracy so it has no relationship to your clip.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Reply #4)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:33 AM

7. I agree with you.

Censoring this Fawlty Towers episode makes as much sense as banning "To Kill a Mockingbird" for containing the N word.

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #7)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 11:11 AM

16. Agree. Same for Huck Finn.

Being pc can take some strange and unnecessary turns.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:31 AM

5. Basil is like Archy Bunker

He is an example of a racist but is not made to be revered for it. His character is an idiot who we all love to laugh at. It is a shame they are censoring it.

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Response to liberal_at_heart (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:32 AM

6. Yep

The poll at the site shows more than 95% say leave it as is.

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Response to liberal_at_heart (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:51 AM

9. Yet racists loved All In The Family

And racism, despite all the mockery (perceived or not), is still a serious problem in the UK as well as here.

Perhaps we might consider that this idea of mocking serious problems doesn't actually do as much as we might think to alleviate the problems.

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Response to redqueen (Reply #9)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:58 AM

12. who said it would solve the world's problems?

All we are saying is it shouldn't be censored.

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Response to liberal_at_heart (Reply #12)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 11:03 AM

13. If racists interpret the humor as encouragement,

as an appeal to them that 'we're on your side', then I can understand why many disagree with you on that point.


LOL... 'solve the world's problems'... nothing like a good strawman.

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Response to redqueen (Reply #13)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 11:07 AM

14. No one said you had to agree with me

I don't think it should be censored. Should we censor Tom Sawyer or To Kill a Mockingbird? Censorship doesn't prevent racism. You cannot solve racism by pretending it does not exist. Believe me I have people in my family that still use the n word and censoring Fawlty Towers is not going to change the way they think. And now to celebrate freedom of expression I think I'm going to go watch that episode. It is freaking hilarious. I love that episode.

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Response to liberal_at_heart (Reply #14)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 01:00 PM

19. +1

Well-intentioned PC censorship often does much more harm than good. Yes, some boneheads may take the satire at face-value (they're boneheads, after all, and not known for their subtlety of thought and wit), but I think satire like this instance from Fawlty Towers does more to expose how silly and pathetic the ignorance and stupidity of those being satirized are than it does to reinforce them.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:46 AM

8. I'll be the first to say it

You'll have to excuse the BBC censors. They're from Barcelona.

TlalocW

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Response to TlalocW (Reply #8)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:51 AM

10. Bwahahahaha!

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Response to TlalocW (Reply #8)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 01:02 PM

20. Perfect

John Cleese would be proud.

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Response to TlalocW (Reply #8)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 03:24 PM

24. We named our Siberian hamster "Basil" in Manuel's honor.

HE PUT BASIL IN THE RATATOUILLE!!!aauuughhh

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:52 AM

11. This seems as good a place as any to link to Tom Lehrer's "National Brotherhood Week."

For those of you who actually own(ed) That Was the Week That Was, there's a slight change in a lyric

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 11:09 AM

15. The BBC tried to censor the movie Babylon which showed British police racist treatment of blacks..


The movie went underground became a cult film, and was very hard to find...

I recently found it on Amazon, and ordered a region 1...not sure what I am going to find to play it on..

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 11:58 AM

17. As they say, they would have gotten flack for leaving it in at 7:30, too

The "oh, but they left in the anti-German stuff" is not a worthwhile objection; the episode revolves around the Germans and Fawlty's mistreatment of them. The Major's racism is, however, a casual throwaway scene that can be edited out without affecting anything else. It's not the end of the world that the Major joke was cut, though I've have thought it could stay in; I think it's worth pointing out that quite a few DUers object to seeing the N-word spelled out in full, even in a serious discussion about racism; they would also, presumably, object to it being broadcast as a set-up or punchline of a joke.

And it should be noted that "Love Thy Neighbour" was not a "classic British comedy"; it was poor quality, and I've never heard anyone ever say "why don't they repeat it?" I'm surprised it ran for 4 years. If anything from around that time is a 'classic comedy' that isn't repeated, it's "Till Death Do Us Part", which is what "All In the Family" was based on. The British reaction was very much like the American - most realised the central character, Alf Garnett, was a bigot being shown as a fool, but some racists thought he was just 'speaking for them'. Whether the BBC doesn't repeat it because of the language, or because social comedy like that works better when the situations and attitudes are current, I don't know.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)


Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 01:08 PM

21. Wow. Harsh jury for post #18.

"Twat" is a fairly mild insult, comparatively speaking, and it was directed not at any DUer but the BBC.

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #21)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 04:18 PM

27. Mild for Brits; on DU, it's often taken to be misogynist

because it's the female genitals.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 01:49 PM

22. The Germans is probably the third best episode, after Basil the Rat and the Builders

That's a shame. It was pretty much perfect as it was.

Didn't they also censor "Fairy Tale of New York" for having an anti-gay slur?

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 03:35 PM

25. You can't be racist against a population

unless that population has been systematically oppressed. And Germans have NOT been.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 04:04 PM

26. Are they trying to distract from their pedophilia scandal?

Only reason I can think of for censoring such an old program after all this time.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 04:39 PM

28. Shame on BBC. The POINT of the comedy bit and episode was to show how STUPID racism is!!!!

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