It feels like we’re banging our heads against the wall here. An episode of Fawlty Towers has been removed from UKTV – the episode, ‘Don’t Mention The War’, was previously edited in 2013 to remove a number of racial slurs and was approved by John Cleese. That edit was supposed to be the only version of the episode made available in the future.
Unfortunately, UKTV managed to add the incorrect cut of the episode to their library and as a result it has been taken down. We fully expect them to replace it with the 2013 version of the episode in due course. The unedited version of the episode is still present on Netflix at the current time – we’re unsure whether that will be removed or not.
The episode’s removal has nothing to do with the War itself despite that being the focus of many articles on the subject right now. There was nothing else in the content of the episode that has resulted in it being made unavailable.
Fawlty Towers is a series that was shot in the 1970s and as with many comedies and other shows shot at the time there are troublesome aspects – including racial slurs. As we’ve previously commented, it is right to review the shows of the past and where possible do things to make them more palatable to a wider audience – either through adding disclaimers or making sympathetic edits. It is also important to remember that these shows can and should be judged with modern standards in mind and those judgements should be used to in a way to encourage discussion of past events that are offensive to segments of society.
The original cut of Fawlty Towers will always exist – this isn’t rewriting history – but when presenting to modern audiences it makes sense to do what is necessary to ensure that it is framed in the right context.
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