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Fawlty Towers episode pulled from streaming service due to ‘racial slurs’

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One of the most famous episodes of 1970s sitcom Fawlty Towers has been temporarily removed from a streaming service over racist language used by a character.

It comes amid protests led by the Black Lives Matter movement which began in the US but have spread around the world.

The protests were prompted by the death of George Floyd, a black man killed when a white police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.

UKTV, which is BBC-owned, said it had temporarily made Fawlty Towers episode The Germans unavailable while it carries out a review.

The episode, first aired in 1975, shows character Major Gowen repeatedly using the N-word in reference to members of the West Indies cricket team, while also referring to Indians as “w***”.

The scene had been edited out of repeats shown on the BBC in 2013, after star and co-writer John Cleese’s representatives were consulted.

A UKTV spokesman said: “UKTV has temporarily removed an episode of Fawlty Towers, The Germans, from Gold’s Box Set.

“The episode contains racial slurs so we are taking the episode down while we review it. We regularly review older content to ensure it meets audience expectations and are particularly aware of the impact of outdated language.

“Some shows carry warnings and others are edited. We want to take time to consider our options for this episode.”

The episode is best known for the scene in which the Fawlty, played by Cleese, is shown goose-stepping while shouting “don’t mention the war” in front of a group of German tourists.

When the BBC edited the episode in 2013, it said in a statement to the Daily Mail: “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 BBC2.”

HBO Max has temporarily removed 1939 civil war epic Gone With The Wind because of its “racial depictions” and iPlayer removed Little Britain following complaints about the use of blackface in some of its sketches.

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