John Cleese has been widely mocked on social media for questioning why the BBC hasn’t screened Monty Python for “a couple of decades”.
While the former comedy troupe’s popular sketch series Monty Python And The Flying Circus originated on the BBC in 1969, it hasn’t been shown on the broadcaster for a while because its licensing rights – as well as the rights to the rest of the show – were sold to Netflix.
Cleese appeared to have forgotten this, however. “Can anyone (including BBC employees) tell me why the BBC has not shown Monty Python for a couple of decades?” he asked on Twitter, to the amusement of many users. One pointed out that Cleese had seemingly forgotten that the BBC showed Monty Python back in 2019 for its 50th anniversary, however they no longer can because Netflix owns the rights to it.
Others pointed out that repeats of Monty Python had been aired fairly frequently over the last couple of decades, perhaps more so than other shows of a similar age. One Twitter user wrote: “They aired Flying Circus in 2004, 2005 and 2019. BBC2 had Python At 50, Lawyers Cut and Holy Grail 50th anniversary documentary (2009). UK Gold, owned by BBC Studios, have created brand new docus and aired the live show in 2014. Do other 50 year old shows get shown that often?”.
Another user replied: “If you’d been brighter, John, you’d have retained your own rights, but you’re not, so you didn’t. Netflix owns you and Monty.”
Can anyone ( including BBC employees ) tell me why the BBC has not shown Monty Python for a couple of decades ?
— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) December 27, 2022
They aired Flying Circus in 2004, 2005 & 2019. BBC2 had Python At 50, Lawyers Cut & Holy Grail 50th anniversary documentary (2009). UK Gold, owned by BBC Studios, have created brand new docos and aired the live show in 2014.
Do other 50 year old shows get shown that often?
— Sharon O’Dea (@sharonodea) December 27, 2022
Cleese has become widely known in recent years for his opposition to “woke” culture and “cancel culture”. He has been lined up to present an anti-cancel-culture show on the right-wing television channel GB News, and told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “there’s a massive amount of important information that gets censored, both in TV and in the press” and that viewers “should be prepared to be shocked”.
Cleese went on to say that he would not be offered such a show by the BBC: “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!’ Because I wouldn’t get five minutes into the first show before I’d been cancelled or censored.”