‘Would be a tragedy’ Jacqui Smith speaks out on censoring Fawlty Towers episodes
Steph's Packed Lunch guests discuss editing old TV shows
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The 58-year-old broadcaster told Steph McGovern she thought it would be a “tragedy” if old episodes of British sitcom Fawlty Towers couldn’t be aired on television again. During an episode of Steph’s Packed Lunch, Jacqui voiced her support for editing out “offensive bits” of certain old shows. However, Steph argued altering clips would mean “re-writing history”.
During the episode, 39-year-old Steph asked Jacqui if she thought it was a good idea to edit old TV shows.
“Look, if it means we can carry on watching some of those shows, but we are removing the bits that nowadays frankly people would really find offensive, I think that’s a good idea, “Jacqui replied.
However, the former MP admitted no amount of editing would make some vintage television shows appropriate now.
She explained: “There are some shows that I suspect are probably beyond [it] that I used to watch when I was younger.
“If it means we can carry on watching some good telly programmes and people aren’t getting offended, then I am up for it.”
A concerned Steph asked Jacquie if she thought shows could only be edited if they didn’t have offensive undertones throughout the programme.
Jacqui explained: “If you think about something like It Aint Half Hot Mum, the fundamental premise in almost the whole programme was racist. I don’t think you can watch that nowadays.”
BBC bosses decided not to bring back the controversial comedy series, aired between 1974 and 1981, as they felt it was “too racist”.
It Aint Half Hot Mum attracted audiences of about 15 million during its peak, but it made offensive jokes about cultural differences.
While Jacqui agreed that the show should not have made a comeback, she felt Fawlty Towers episodes should return to screens if any offensive parts are removed.
She explained: “But something like Faulty Towers, it would be a tragedy if we couldn’t have that on the telly anymore.
“If you take the bits out which are now offensive, we can still watch what was a brilliant programme.”
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Last year UKTV temporarily removed an episode of Fawlty Towers from streaming services for its use of “outdated language”.
Steph could not help asking Jacqui if editing old television episodes was just “re-writing history”.
Jacqui replied: “I don’t think so. This is an entertainment programme, right?
“You’re not saying you’re going to fundamentally change what was happening.
“You’re saying, ‘Here’s something that in this day and age shouldn’t include this little bit of language’.
“The rest of the programme remains as it was.”
Steph and Jacqui appeared to end the debate agreeing to disagree on the matter.
Steph’s Packed Lunch airs on Mondays at 12.30pm on Channel 4.
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