John Cleese’s cancel culture hypocrisy

John Cleese’s cancel culture hypocrisy
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‘Always look on the bright side of life’ sang Monty Python. But it seems that for at least one of the legendary sextet, such sentiments are now a thing of the past. For the octogenarian John Cleese has today announced he will complain to the BBC over an interview conducted with one of their reporters. What heinous crime did the journalist in question commit? Which unfortunate anchor is to blame? How much trouble is the Corporation in this time? Well, judging from the footage in question, the answer to Mr S seems, er, not a lot.

Cleese was riled earlier by an interview with BBC World News presenter Karishma Vaswani who chose to ask him about his views on 'cancel culture' – a subject on which he has spoken out numerous times before. The longtime press critic was, however, amazed that Vaswani did not want to solely discuss his forthcoming Asia tour for the entire six-minute segment and has now fired off a series of statements slamming the Beeb for its mild-mannered probing. His first complaint in the interview was that his host started a question with the word 'but'; his last being when he was asked about the reception to Dave Chapelle's Netflix series which prompted him to remove his headphones, claiming it was 'not the interview I had agreed to.'

In a subsequent statement, Cleese accused his host of asking a 'disjointed question, clearly trying to portray me as old-fashioned, uncaring and basically harmful' and attacking her interview's 'deception, dishonesty and tone.' For a self-professed cancel culture critic who is meant to be making a Channel 4 documentary about the subject, it's not a great look to cancel your interviewer. But for Cleese, such impudence to ask about matters other than his ticket-selling shenanigans is clearly beyond the pale as he has now declared that 'Karishma had no interest in a discussion with me. She wanted only the role of prosecutor. The BBC needs to train her again.'

Ironically, the pre-recorded interview had not been aired on BBC World News when Cleese spoke out about it on Twitter. Mr S wonders if, at his age, Cleese has managed to hear about the Streisand effect. By attacking an unknown anchor on an unaired programme, he's managed to generate a wave of headlines about his ill-tempered rancour. Let's hope the prospect of witnessing that will fill seats in Singapore and Bangkok. Ministry of Silly Talks indeed.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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