Mind your language

Classic sitcoms censored in racism blitz

Classic BBC sitcoms are to fall under the censor’s knife in a new crackdown on offensive language.

The move comes after views complained about racism in a recent rerun of a 1981 Only Fools And Horses episode, in which Grandad referred to   a “Paki shop”.

The BBC said the complaints were justified, as the word had become much more offensive in the intervening years.

Now potentially racist language will be exorcised from sitcoms before they air again.

But the corporation insists that it’s only casual racism used for a cheap laugh that will be edited out – lines designed to leave a character’s unsavoury views open to ridicule would stay in.

So Alf Garnett’s outbursts in Till Death Us Do Part or the Fawlty Towers episode in which the Major explains the difference between ‘nigger’ and ‘wog’ are likely to remain untouched.

A BBC spokesman said: “The entertainment department will look at each comedy programme to check that the language is appropriate for re-broadcast.

"Each programme must be judged on its merits and it is important to look at the context in which the language was used. For example, a character like the Major in Fawlty Towers was clearly old fashioned and his remarks inappropriate, but viewers would understand the words were being used within this context. "

Published: 11 May 2004

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