John Cleese Roasted For Claiming His Show Isn’t Televised

John Cleese mistakingly roasted BBC for not showing Monthy Python on the channel, though they have been for a few years.

By Jessica Scott | Updated

john cleese

John Cleese just asked a question on Twitter that has everyone scratching their heads. His tweet reads: “Can anyone (including BBC employees) tell me why the BBC has not shown Monty Python for a couple of decades?” While plenty of his followers were quick to hurl out answers about the show being censored or unappreciated in this current, more politically correct era, the real answer to his question is that Monty Python shows and movies have actually been shown on the channel as recently as 2019, when the BBC devoted an entire night to celebrating the comedy’s 50th anniversary.

This is not the first time John Cleese has accused the BBC of not showing reruns of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. In 2020, he made the same assertion, even though this was still just a year after the channel played it on its 50th anniversary. 

While his most recent tweet racked up 11,000 replies and more than 100,000 likes in just 24 hours, many are convinced that John Cleese is just trying to stir up controversy where there isn’t any. While it is true that some of the jokes from the show may not be as well-received in today’s current social climate, it is also true that his statement is factually wrong.

One of the thousands of responders to John Cleese’s inflammatory tweet was a TV playout director who was actually responsible for preparing an episode of Monty Python to go on television on September 7, 2019. He can personally attest to having put the show on the air on that date, which falls well within Cleese’s “couple of decades” window.

While this disproves John Cleese’s assertion, some would respond with “Okay, so they played it once in 20 years! That’s not very much!” We agree that once in 20 years is certainly not a lot either, but there is an explanation for that as well.

According to CBR, numerous Twitter users tried to point out to John Cleese that BBC can’t legally show Monty Python’s Flying Circus because the rights to the show have been sold to Netflix. Still, though, the network has played the show several times in the past few decades, even if it is more complicated now that it no longer holds the rights to it.

The show has also appeared on another British TV channel, That’s TV, which negotiated a deal to be able to play all four seasons of the show. So, clearly, the show is not being hidden away or censored to try to further any sort of agenda. The rights have just been sold to other networks to be watched, which makes John Cleese’s anger seem a bit silly.

While he does have a lot of support on Twitter, John Cleese’s tweet is largely being seen as a comment on “cancel culture,” which has been one of his main focuses in recent years. In 2022, he starred in a documentary series called Cancel Me, in which he discusses the damaging effect of “canceling” on comedians’ careers, and has plans to host a show about freedom of speech on a British right-wing news channel in the near future.

John Cleese has not responded to any of the comments on his tweet so far.