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In a series of tweets on Thursday (16 December), the Monty Python star claimed that a BBC journalist had tried to portray him as “old-fashioned, uncaring and basically harmful” in the interview.
He alleged that he was asked about “cancel culture” during the conversation, which was was supposed to be about his forthcoming comedy shows in Singapore and Bangkok.
“I replied courteously and in full I explained that if parents were over protective, it did not prepare children well when they entered the real and often not-very-nice world,” Cleese continued.
Then, Cleese claimed that the interviewer asked him a “disjointed question, clearly trying to portray me as old-fashioned, uncaring and basically harmful”.
The 81-year-old said he told the journalist “her question was a poor one” but that he addressed one of the “many points” it appeared to cover, anyway.
Cleese further alleged his response had been “totally ignored” by the interviewer, who had then asked him about the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the newly discovered omicron variant, and Dave Chappelle – topics Cleese claims he had not agreed to comment on prior to the interview.
“I removed my headphones, saying that this was not the interview I had agreed to,” he wrote on Twitter. “The BBC needs to train her again.”
The media will no doubt report that I 'stormed out'
Nor did I lose my temper
But I was depressed that this kind of presenter-ego crap is so prevalent now
— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) December 16, 2021
A spokesperson for the BBC told The Independent: “This was a fair and appropriate interview which touched on topics that John Cleese has previously been vocal about as well as themes within his new tour. Our presenter is an excellent and experienced journalist who conducted the interview entirely within our editorial guidelines.”
In his tweets, Cleese also said: “The media will no doubt report that I ‘stormed out.’ I didn’t. Nor did I lose my temper. But I was depressed that this kind of presenter-ego crap is so prevalent now.”
Last month the comedian “blacklisted himself” from the Cambridge Union debating society after a historian who impersonated Adolf Hitler during a society debate was banned.
It was announced in August that the actor and writer is also due to present a Channel 4 documentary about “cancel culture” in comedy, titled John Cleese: Cancel Me.
Additional reporting from Press Association