Rising Damp star Don Warrington defends classic sitcom

"People were naïve in what they did"

Don Warrington attends Royal Television Society Programme Awards at Grosvenor House Hotel in London
Don Warrington starred in Rising Damp. (Alamy)

Rising Damp star Don Warrington has defended the classic sitcom over its use of racial slurs.

The show, which was broadcast between 1974 and 1978, followed a racist landlord and his tenants including Phillip, played by Warrington.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Warrington rejected the idea that the show should be edited for modern audiences: “No, because the show’s intentions were good.

Read more: BBC airs controversial 'Fawlty Towers' episode after cutting racist terms

"Sometimes you have to be generous in that way in order to get a proper view of how things were. And to understand that sometimes people were naïve in what they did."

RISING DAMP, from left: Richard Beckinsale, Leonard Rossiter, Don Warrington, 1974-1978
Richard Beckinsale, Leonard Rossiter, and Don Warrington in Rising Damp. (Alamy)

He added: "For me, the show was never cynical. And because you had such fine actors involved, the standard of work was just so great.”

Rising Damp featured racial slurs and ignorant comments with the show's lead Rupert Rigsby — played by Leonard Rossiter — shown to be a bigoted man, particularly towards Philip.

Warrington also praises the show for its portrayal of black people: "A lot of black people still say to me that their parents would call them down from their bedrooms whenever it was on, because of the way it showed a black man on TV who was not being put down or abused.”

l-r: Leonard Rossiter (Rooksby), Don Warrington (Philip Smith) in THE BANANA BOX by Eric Chappell at the Hampstead Theatre Club, London NW3  17/05/1973      design: Adrian Vaux   lighting: Joe Davis   director: David Scase
Don Warrington and Leonard Rossiter in Rising Damp. (Alamy)

In recent years, a number of older comedy shows have been edited or taken down from streaming services.

The Germans episode of Fawlty Towers was removed from the UKTV streaming service because of the show's use of racial slurs.

FAWLTY TOWERS, (from left): Prunella Scales, John Cleese, Ballard Berkeley, 'Communication Problems (aka Theft), (Season 2, ep.
Prunella Scales, John Cleese, and Ballard Berkeley in Fawlty Towers. (Alamy)

Series creator John Cleese criticised the decision saying: "We were not supporting his views, we were making fun of them. If they can't see that, if people are too stupid to see that, what can one say?"

The episode was later restored with a content warning.

Other shows such as Little Britain and Bo Selecta have also faced removal from streaming due to their offensive content.