BBC urged to air racist insults

Row over Fawlty Towers 'censorship'

The BBC has been criticised... for deciding NOT to air racist language before 8pm.

A handful of viewers have complained after the word’s ‘nigger’ and ‘wog’ were censored an episode of Fawlty Towers broadcast over the weekend.

In the infamous German’s episode, the Major goes on a distracted rant about taking a female friend to see India.... at the Oval.

After that joke, the character, played by Ballard Berkeley says: ‘The strange thing was, throughout the morning she kept referring to the Indians as niggers. “No, no, no,” I said, “the niggers are the West Indians. These people are wogs”.’

The line gets a big laugh from the studio audience. And although it is included on recent DVD releases of the classic sitcom, the BBC decided it was unsuitable for broadcast at 7.30pm on a Sunday.

One viewer, Tony Ingram, said: ‘It does seem rather unneccesary to edit a programme this old. You can't airbrush history away, and I doubt if anyone but the terminally thin skinned could be offended by the Major, a character we're clearly supposed to laugh at rather than with.’

However, another summed up the BBC’s dilemma by saying: ‘Seems to me the BBC is in a bit of a no-win situation here. If it makes the changes, it's pilloried for being pathetically PC; if it doesn't it could be said to be endorsing what's now pretty much universally regarded as hateful language.’

A handful of complaints were initially confined the Points Of View forums on the BBC website – but never one to miss an opportunity to slate the corporation, the Daily Mail has amplified the alleged furore by picking up the story.

On its website, reader ‘Revier’ said: ‘The BBC won't be happy until history is re-written to suit their Marxist luvvie's agenda. As one of the EU's main propaganda organ's they could come to be renamed The Ministry of Truth.'

A BBC spokesman said: ‘We are very proud of Fawlty Towers and its contribution to British television comedy.

‘But public attitudes have changed significantly since it was made and it was decided to make some minor changes, with the consent of John Cleese’s management, to allow the episode to transmit to a family audience at 7.30pm on BBC Two.’

Here’s the scene that was dropped:

Published: 23 Jan 2013

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