More airbrushing in the name of modernity;
It is the episode of Fawlty Towers best remembered for the line ‘Don’t mention the war’ and John Cleese’s silly walk when impersonating Hitler. The references have proved controversial before, but when The Germans was repeated on BBC2 on Sunday evening it wasn’t our European neighbours that the corporation was worried about offending. Instead, the episode was edited to omit racist language – only for some viewers to then complain that the BBC was ‘airbrushing history’.
And the offence?
In one scene one of the hotel’s permanent residents, Major Gowen, uses derogatory terms to describe black people. It was included in the episode’s first airing in October 1975, but this time around the major’s words were edited out. The scene involves Basil Fawlty and the major, played by actor Ballard Berkeley, exchanging their normal pleasantries before the conversation moves on to Basil’s wife Sybil and women in general. The major tells Fawlty about the time he took a woman to see India play cricket at the Oval. He then 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”.’
Humour by pass! The JOKE here is not the “niggers” or “wogs” but the madness of the Major!