Graham Norton criticises John Cleese for not taking 'accountability' for his 'free speech'

Graham Norton
Graham Norton has said John Cleese must take accountability for things he says. (BBC)

Graham Norton has criticised John Cleese's stance on cancel culture, saying people must accept "accountability" for things they say.

The comedian and chat show host made an example of the Monty Python and Fawlty Towers star when asked about cancel culture at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, claiming Cleese has been able to say what he liked for years.

Norton, 59, said: “The word [cancel] is the wrong word. I think the word should be ‘accountability’.

Read more: John Cleese says woke culture is having 'disastrous' impact on creativity in comedy

“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.

John Cleese
Graham Norton said John Cleese, 82, is a 'man of a certain age' who has been able to say whatever he likes for years. (Getty Images)

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

Cleese recently revealed he will be hosting a new show on GB News, calling it a 'free speech' channel and claimed he would not work on the BBC for fear of being cancelled.

Cleese, 82, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “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.”

Graham Norton (back) and (left to right) John Cleese, Taylor Swift and Kevin Pietersen appearing on the Graham Norton show, filmed at the London Studios, London, to be aired on BBC One on Friday evening.
Graham Norton interviewed John Cleese on his chat show in 2014. (PA)

Meanwhile, Norton refused to discuss JK Rowling at the event, saying he did not wish to be drawn into the debate of trans issues raised by her stance on protecting sex-based rights for women.

The gay, male TV presenter said: “My voice adds absolute nothing to that discussion. I’m sort of embarrassed that I’m somehow drawn into it.

“If people want to shine a light on those issues, and I hope they do, talk to trans people. Talk to someone who can illuminate this in some way.”

Read more: Monty Python's John Cleese under fire over 'transphobic' tweet

Norton previously defended his decision to invite the Harry Potter author onto his radio show, saying he did not believe you had to agree with someone to interview them.

Watch: John Cleese has called GB News the 'free speech' channel