Politics

Graham Norton Colleges John Cleese On Free Speech: ‘It is Not Consequence-Free’

Graham Norton has shared his thoughts on John Cleese’s complaints about canceling culture after the Fawlty Towers actor landed a new job presenting a show on the so-called “free-speech” channel, GB News.

Earlier this week, the Monty Python star, who has been outspoken about cancel culture and “woke” politics, said he would be discussing both on his new show, which he insisted would encourage “proper argument”.

The actor told BBC Radio 4: “The BBC have not come to me and said, ‘Would you like to have some one-hour shows?’ and if they did, I would say, ‘Not on your nelly!’ I wouldn’t get five minutes into the first show before I’d been canceled or censored.”

Graham, who has hosted The Graham Norton Show on the BBC since 2007, addressed the idea of ​​canceling culture and Cleese’s views during a recent appearance at the Cheltenham Literature Festival.

(LR) Graham Norton and John Cleese

“The word is the wrong word,” Graham said. “I think the word should be ‘accountability’.

“John Cleese has been very public recently about complaining about what you can’t say.

“It must be very hard to be a man of a certain age who’s been able to say whatever he likes for years, and now suddenly there’s some accountability.”

He added: “It’s free speech, but not consequence-free. I’m aware of the things I say.”

Cleese has previously defended Harry Potter author JK Rowling’s controversial views on transgender people.

In 2020, the actor signed an open letter in solidarity with Rowling, who has repeatedly made headlines after implying on social media ― and in a lengthy essay ― that the idea of ​​gender identity invalidates her experience as a cisgender woman.

Cleese, who played Nearly Headless Nick in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was asked about his support for the author on Twitter.

I’m afraid I’m not that interested in trans folks

I just hope they’re happy and that people treat them kindly

Right now I’m more focused on threats to democracy in America, the rampant corruption in the UK, the appalling British Press, the revelations about police brutality… https://t.co/y6l33FBQNL

— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) November 22, 2020

He responded, “I’m afraid I’m not that interested in trans folks,” before adding glibly, “I just hope they’re happy and that people treat them kindly.”

In the same year, he labeled the BBC “cowardly” for removing an episode of FawltyTowers from one of its streaming services.

The famous “don’t mention the war” episode was removed because it contains “racial slurs” said UKTV, which is owned by BBC Studios.

Cleese, who co-wrote and starred in the show, claimed the publicly-funded organization was run by a “mixture of marketing people and petty bureaucrats” whose main concern was “not losing their jobs”.

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