John Cleese complains about ‘deceptive’ BBC interview

·TV Reporter
·3 min read
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: John Cleese during a book signing at Waterstones Piccadilly to promote his book
John Cleese says he will complain to the BBC. (Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

John Cleese has said he is making a formal complaint to the BBC about a "deceptive" interview which he left after clashing with the presenter.

The actor and comedian, 82, had been speaking to BBC World Asia about his shows in Singapore and Bangkok, but complained that he felt the interview was derailed with questions about cancel culture - a subject he has addressed many times and made a documentary about.

Read more: John Cleese under fire for joke about offensive Liverpool stereotype

Tweeting about his annoyance, Cleese wrote: "Instead, the interviewer, whose name was, I think, Karishma, started by asking me questions about Cancel Culture. I replied courteously and in full I explained that if parents were over protective, it did not prepare children well when they entered the real and often not-very-nice world. 

COLOGNE, GERMANY - OCTOBER 02: John Cleese pose for the 23rd annual German Comedy Awards at Studio in Koeln Muehlheim on October 2, 2019 in Cologne, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
The actor and comedian was annoyed by the interview. (TF-Images/Getty Images)

"She then asked a disjointed question, clearly trying to portray me as old-fashioned, uncaring and basically harmful. I pointed out that her question was a poor one, since it contained so many very different points."  

Earlier in the year, the BBC had edited an episode of Cleese's classic sitcom Fawlty Towers to cut out jokes containing racist terms, with the same episode removed by UKTV - something that Cleese had spoken out against.

Cleese claimed that she had ignored what he had tried to say about "woke culture" and young people dealing with anxiety and depression, but said that he had tried to get the interview back on track.

He tweeted: "At this point pointed out that I had been told than the interview was to be about my shows in Singapore and Bangkok, and I asked if we could now talk about that She then asked why I was doing shows in Asia when the pandemic was causing such problems apparently blaming me for making the situation worse!  

'Fawlty Towers' named the best British sitcom of all time
Earlier this year, Cleese defended his sitcom 'Fawlty Towers'.

"I explained that the omicron variant had surfaced only three weeks ago, and that tours are arranged rather more than three weeks ahead."

Cleese continued that he reached his breaking point when the presenter asked him about controversial comedian Dave Chapelle, adding: "I removed my headphones, saying that this was not the interview I had agreed to.  

Read more: BBC airs controversial Fawlty Towers episode after cutting racist terms

"So I am formally complaining to the BBC about the deception, dishonesty and tone of this interview. Karishma had no interest in a discussion with me. She wanted only the role of prosecutor. The BBC needs to train her again. 

"The media will no doubt report that I 'stormed out' I didn't Nor did I lose my temper But I was depressed that this kind of presenter-ego crap is so prevalent now."

Earlier this year, Channel 4 announced that Cleese would be fronting a new documentary, John Cleese: Cancel Me, looking at cancel culture and comedy.

Watch: John Cleese on why he'd have to rewrite Fawlty Towers in 2020

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