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By David Vance On January 23rd, 2013

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!

53 Responses to “DON’T MENTION THE N…..”

  1. Always one of the better lines.

  2. Not surprised you liked it Pete. I’d say Allan enjoyed that line too.

  3. I don’t think the Major’s mental status requires that particular joke to be established. The joke itself is ultimately on the major (who doesn’t think he’s telling a joke) and that type of generational thinking which was starting to die out back out in 1975 (but still has some embers of life today).

  4. Perhaps this should have been posted under George Orwell?

  5. I loved Faulty Towers

  6. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfl6Lu3xQW0

  7. The name of Guy Gibson’s dog is being changed from Nigger to Digger for the remake of The Dambusters.

  8. Atually there’s another scene the BBC cut out as well as it was far too blasphemous…

    Major…Morning Fawlty..
    Basil…Hello Major how did you sleep?
    Major…Awful…Bloody wind turbine outside my window kept me awake all night.
    Falwty..well we do need to combat man made global warming
    Major…Utter poppycock no such thing Fawlty I was talking to some wog the other day about this and he said it was rubbish….

    Completley understandable….

    Coming soon the BBC Re-do the Mona Lisa in their flagship programme..’60 minute makeover’ Clare Balding puts Da Vinci right by getting Lisa into a hoody and adding some much needed facial tattoos and piercings….

  9. “The name of Guy Gibson is being changed to Radoslaw,Trayvon, Jameel Gibson, in order to better reflect the multicultural Britain that helped win that war…

  10. Tarasov –

    Liked it very much, thanks. Now if you’ll excuse I’ll settle down with my Love Thy Neighbour box set.

  11. don’t forget if you think bbc nolans show of last wednesday night was biased in its audience make up and went against bbc rules of fairness and balance please contact offcom and make your complaint…


    That audience was a disgrace

  12. In two minds about this to be honest David (so probably links to Orwellan doublethink).

    Yes the joke is that the Major is a sandwich short of a picnic but at the same time I would be mortified if I was watching this with any black friend. I would like to think that this is an indication of concern for my friend’s discomfort but suspect that it is an indication of me being likely to patronise my friends and that their only discomfort would be from that.

  13. While I don’t think it is right to censor historic films/tv programmes etc. to reflect modern ethics , I do think it is a positive sign that the decision to do so in this case does at least reflect a consideration towards the feelings of racial groups which wouldn’t have been bothered with back in the 1970s and earlier.

  14. Fawlty Towers, like this; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGv2AqiSOwQ is from a different time. Colin has it 100% above.

    “The name of Guy Gibson is being changed to Radoslaw,Trayvon, Jameel Gibson, in order to better reflect the multicultural Britain that helped win that war…

    Maybe they should change it to Petrochansky or Zawadski in honour of the Polish Air Force, to whom the British owe an unending debt of gratitude to for their role in the Battle of Britain?

  15. I bought the Fawlty Towers boxset DVD a few years ago, and I remember watching this scene and thinking “if they showed this episode today on the BBC, this bit would definitely be censored or changed in some way – no way would they broadcast it verbatim”.

    It’s not because they don’t get the fact that the joke is on The Major – even back then, the audience is laughing AT (not along with) his mediocre characterisation of West Indians as “niggers” or “wogs” – even Basil is dumbfounded/embarrassed at The Major’s attitude. That’s not why they censor it – no, it’s because it is anathema to the Leftist BBC to demonstrate that anyone, no matter how old-fashioned, could ever hold such an opinion. In the BBC’s eyes, all of the opinions held by people pre-1960 must be airbrushed out of history, because they do not accord with the new political view. We must think of our grandfathers as nothing more than primitive, barbarian, unenlightened imbeciles. We must forget (or not be taught in the first place) that our grandfathers invented electronics, air travel, radio, television, etc etc – because if we learn this, and yet we also see their “pre-1960’s” attitudes, then we shall see the discrepancy, the anomaly, and we shall start to wonder “hang on a moment – how could that generation have been so advanced, just like we are, and yet so utterly wrong in their views about cultural morality?” Therefore they must airbrush all these embarrassing viewpoints out, as if they never existed.

  16. Complete Rubbish Tom. You demonstrate a paranoia almost as bad as Allan’s.

  17. I don’t know anything about that show, but the sad fact is that language like that was very common in the US until somewhat recent times. And not just in the South either.

    If anyone made a movie today that showed how many people in the US ( and maybe other places ) really spoke some decades ago, it would be inflammatory and it would shock the hell out of people.

  18. I respect your opinion as always, Colm, but you have not made the slightest attempt to argue why you think I am wrong here. Merely saying “complete rubbish” doesn’t quite cut the mustard, you need to explain WHY I am wrong. I’m listening.

  19. That piece of sitcom was broadcast in 1975, and (as far as I’m aware), it was accepted for what it was back then, and there were not thousands upon thousands of complaints to the BBC from viewers demanding an apology.
    However, these days the scene cannot be broadcast without censorship.
    That means one of two things: Either the BBC holds that peoples’ views back in 1975 were thoroughly wrong and primitive and backward and that “we know better these days, and such views must be censored”, OR that “back in 1975, we knew better than we do now, before our lives had become infected with ‘political correctness’, and that it is the latter which is wrong”. So, which is it, and why?

  20. Tom

    You are the one who hasn’t proved anything. You have just posted a rather paranoid opinion that the censorship is designed to airbrush history. The evidence that is not true is all around. TV is full of dramas that show racist and sexist attitudes along with admirable traits held by past generations, Call the midwife and The Hour to name just 2 recent pieces of evidence. At the same time the inventions and achievements of those same genrations are also endlessly shown in documentaries almost every day on TV. This idea that regressive social attitides and behaviour can never be shown in conjunction with progressive and laudable achievements is a figment of your imagination. Their are hundreds og hours of TV and Film footage to disprove your analysis.

  21. That’s a lovely. polished answer Colm, but it totally sidesteps the question I asked. Are you studying for a career in politics?

  22. So, which is it, and why?

    I love that as a debating tactic: I’ve prepared two answers and you must pick one. Providing your own answer is not allowed!

  23. Having a young child, I am also afforded the excuse to watch all the cartoons, and the house is full of Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry cartoons.

    The Tom & Jerry ones in particular are full of racist stereotypes, images and references, but Warner Bros. have put this statement onscreen before the DVD menu.

    ‘The cartoons you are about to see are products of their time. They may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in the U.S society. These depictions were wrong then and they are wrong today. While the following does not represent the Warner Bros. view of today’s society, these cartoons are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming that these prejudices never existed.’

    Perhaps the BBC should do something similar?

  24. Tom

    My 10.13 was an answer to your 9.55. I wrote it in advance of your 10.13 question. You claim that old fashioned attitudes are airbrushed as if they never existed and I have disproved that. It isn’t a sidestepping ‘polished’ response. It proves you wrong.

  25. Not surprised you liked it Pete. I’d say Allan enjoyed that line too.

    Yes Petr, I did like it because it was funny and for no other reason. What other reason would there be? Of course, you didn’t like it.

    Tom – trying to debate with the less developed minds on this site is somewhat difficult, not because of their rapier-like response but because they simply will not/cannot engage.

  26. I isn’t censorship as the BBC apparently got approval from John Cleese’s manangement so it could be aired during family viewing hours. The DVDs etc have remained untouched.

  27. Allan — You’ll find that sane people on this site the less developed minds engage with other sane people on this site other less developed minds.

  28. It would be a shame if any mind on this site was so terribly underdeveloped that it would insist that the weak smile and laugh of a bereaved father gearing himself up to do a press interview in the early days of such extreme emotional trauma is proof of something sinister. Oh wait ………

  29. Petr (at 10:32pm) – That’s a very good point you make. Perhaps I am guilty of that. You’re right; I shouldn’t define the terms of the debate just because I ask a specific question. I take your point, and I scrub out my comment “which is it”.
    It’s getting close to bedtime (yeah, convenient cop-out clause, sure) but I still think I asked a good point, and I’m not sure I’ve been replied to in full.

  30. The views are not being airbrushed as if they never existed. It was not a documentry or news item being replayed. It was a bit from a sitcom. Even in the context if the time, the attidude promoted by the part removed was that the Major was cuckoo and his utterings were part of the evidence for that. So if anything the “view” censored was that saying things like that are part of the ramblings of an old fool.

    It wasn’t the view that was censored but the comments.

  31. Tom

    Goodnight – Don’t let the ‘niggers in the woodpile’, bite 😉

  32. Let me try and rephrase myself in more basic terms: The “Fawlty Towers” sketch in question was generally deemed acceptable back in 1975, but not now. I think that that is interesting in itself. Why was it acceptable back then, but not now? (Bearing in mind that even then, we knew that the joke was about the Major acting like a twerp?) If we knew that from the start, then why has it been censored now?

  33. Tom

    It’s not rocket science. It is simply that the words ‘Nigger’ and ‘Wog’ are just regarded as less acceptable to casually air now than was deemed ok in the 70s. Whether you like it or not, racial offence is treated more seriously nowadays.

  34. Colm, although I know that you meant that in jest, please be assured that I have no fears nor scruples about the “niggers in the woodpile” or anywhere else. I view every race of homosapien to be equally valuable, viable and honourable, although there are fundamental differences between each race’s abilities, strengths and weaknesses.

  35. Whether you like it or not, racial offence is treated more seriously nowadays.

    Why is that, Colm? In the heirarchy of ‘crime’, where does racial offence rank relative to physical assault, robbery, rape and murder?

  36. Allan

    The ‘Jews that control us’ authorities regard the slightest racial offence as a hanging matter. They consider physical assault rape and murder to be perfectly acceptable even laudable when committed by black people on white people.

    Do you agree ?

  37. Colm – I wouldn’t go as far as to say “laudable”, but certainly far less serious than when committed by white people gainst non-white people. In this case, one sees white assault on non-white – 11 years sentence:


    – Darren Bagalo and his friend Farman Khan, both then 17, had been out bowling with family and friends on the night of April 23, 2002, the Metropolitan Police said.

    They were walking through the town centre at about 11pm when a gang of men set upon them, punching, kicking and stabbing both in a sustained attack.

    CCTV images showed the seven suspects making Nazi gestures and salutes towards other passers-by moments before attacking the teenagers.

    Mr Bagalo and Mr Khan were rushed to hospital where they underwent surgery for serious stab wounds. Mr Bagalo’s injuries, which included stab wounds to the abdomen and torso and kicks to the head, were initially life-threatening, while Mr Khan had been stabbed in the arm.

    But thankfully, after months of treatment, both men made a full recovery.

    DS Ian Willett of Havering police said: “This was a vicious and racially-driven attack against two young men innocently enjoying a night out. –

    OK – a “racially-driven attack” earning the white assailant 11 years.

  38. But in this case of non-white assaulting white, the sentence of 15 months reflect the less serious nature of assault on whites:


    – Shafqat Khan, aged 22, joined in the fight and started kicking one of the boys in the head while shouting racial abuse as he lay unconscious on the floor.

    All three of the victims were taken to hospital where two of them needed stitches in their heads.

    One of the boys suffered at 3cm long cut on the right side of his head and the other needed six stitches.

    Louise Couen, prosecuting, said the attack had a lasting affect on the boys, emotionally and socially.

    All three of the attackers pleaded guilty to causing actually bodily harm.

    Shafqat Khan admitted that his offence was racially aggravated. –

    The judge, Timothy Stead, was the same for both cases.

  39. ‘OK – a “racially-driven attack” earning the white assailant 11 years.’

    Are you suggesting it was anything other than a ‘racially-driven attack’, Allan?

  40. It would appear that the first attack was also a ‘knife crime’, whereas the second was an assault. That might account for the difference in sentences?

  41. There are thousands of violent crimes and judicial sentences every year. Anyone can compare any 2 of them to illustrate the political argument they want to make.

  42. Seimi – The first attack by white on non-white involved knives and serious injury. The second attack by non-whites on whites involved claw hammers and kicking into unconsciousness. Both were racial attacks as acknowledged by all, and both could have resulted in death. Both cases were presided over by the same judge so the only variable is the colour of assailants and victims. And there before your very eyes is the policy of the judiciary – whites get 11 years and non-whites get 12 – 15 months for similar offences.

  43. Colm – to emphasise what I have written to Seimi: IT’S THE SAME JUDGE!!!!!!! , just different colour pattern.

  44. Allan

    The second case was a oonviction for actual bodily harm – the first was for grevious bodily harm.

  45. Apologies, Allan. I didn’t read the full article. Mea Culpa.


    ‘ Both cases were presided over by the same judge…’

    A Judge Kennedy is mentioned in one case, and a Judge Stead in the other, although it only mentions Kennedy as the 2003 trial judge. Are you sure the same judge presided over both? It’s not clear from either article.

    As to the sentencing, I would say that the longer sentence was handed down because the victims almost died, whereas in the other attack the injuries proved to be less serious.

    Are you suggesting that white judges (or the same white judge if that turns out to be the case) handed down sentences based not on the crimes, but on the skin colour of the assailants?

  46. Of course that’s what Allan is suggesting. He’s probably also ferreting around the internet now to find a Jewish connection with the Judge(s) also 😉

  47. The 6 other men involved on the white on non-white attack were sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from 1 1/2 years to 7 1/2 years. The man you refer to (who was given 11 years) was also on the run for 10 years. This evasion of justice could account for why he got a significantly longer sentence not just in comparison to the people in the other case you mention but also why he got a significantly longer sentence compared to the other defendants in his own case.

    There is also considerable difference between a 3 on 3 assault and a 7 on 2 assault so the two cases are not directly comparable.

  48. Seimi – you are correct. It looks like a Judge Kennedy and not Judge Stead – mea culpa on me (but it’s late). The reason why I had mentioned these cases is that the consequences of both could have been murder as has been stated in the process, and both were racially-driven attacks. Yet the sentence given to the non-whites for their claw hammer attack on whites is approximately 10x shorter (for actual bodily assault – see next paragraph) than that given to the white for a knife attack on non-whites.

    That the first case (knife attack) involved grievous bodily harm is based upon intent to harm, and that is beyond dispute. In the second case which is an attack with a claw hammer on the heads of two teenagers, I’d say that intent is established especially by the kicking into unconsiousness of one of the victims. Actual bodily harm can carry a sentence of up to 5 years so 1 year is inexplicable. But such sentences don’t come out of nowhere and there is a huge discrepancy in sentenccing in race-related attacks. Whites get heavy sentences and non-whites get lesser terms.

  49. The two cases are different Allan. A 3 on 3 assault with a hammer vs a 7 on 2 assualt with knife followed by a 10 year attempt to evade justice are the main differences in the sentencing. Not the race of the perpetrators.

  50. Seimi – here’s a 3-on-1 and the race aspect of non-white on white is clear, yet the sentences come nowhere near that given out to a white who assaults a non-white. Putting it another way, would the sentences have been greater if whites had been the assailants? I would say yes and I’ll expand on this in the future.


    Three gang members who took part in a mob attack on a vulnerable man, fracturing his skull, have been given custodial sentences totalling almost 15 years.

    Majid Ali, 20, Syed Amar Shah, 18, and 16-year-old Mubashaer Ali were among a group of yobs who hurled stones and bricks at Matthew Ellis.

    Mr Ellis, 41, whom Bradford Crown Court heard had significant mental illness, needed brain surgery after he was hit on the head with a rock. He also suffered a fractured arm. –

  51. The only adult in the group when the attack took place (Majid Ali) was given a 6 year prison sentence which is almost identical to the longest sentence given out to the white men in your other case who didn’t go on the run.

    If Ali had gone on the run he would have probably gotten a longer sentence as well.

  52. Perhaps the BBC should do something similar?

    Perhaps not.

    Perhaps the BBC should state instead that well within living memory the idea of censoring ourselves would have been unthinkable, amd that laws proscribing our liberties to use our language freely were pretty much unknown.

    Perhaps it should also state that in the since, a political terror has been imposed on a once-free people which elevates the fictional offence of racism to the head of all crime. Perhaps it sgould admit that the BBC, like so many institutions, has been taken over by the cultural Marxists and used to brainwash the population into believing this bunk, and that this terror is the prime cultural weapon against the British people to cow them into accepting their cultural and, eventually, ethnic demise.

    Perhaps that’s what someone with a pair of balls and a modicum of insight at the BBC should do.

  53. “well within living memory the idea of censoring ourselves would have been unthinkable amd that laws proscribing our liberties to use our language freely were pretty much unknown. ”

    Really ?. We had no censorship in the glorious past. The Gay news Blasphemy convictions and awhole history of religous based censorship, the OZ magazine and numerous other Obscenity convictions, the Lord Chamberlains strict theatre censorship rules etc etc. We are far far freer from Censorship in modern day Britain than any time in the past.

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