Announcing his return to TV during an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, he admitted that he initially didn’t know who his new employers were because he’s “pretty much given up” on modern TV.
The irony was not lost on scores of Twitter users:
\u201cJohn Cleese joining that channel is the funniest thing he\u2019s done in years\u201d
\u201cJohn Cleese says "this country has sunk to the lowest intellectual level ever".....as he's about to host a show on the dizzying intellectual pinnacle that is GB News. \nYou couldn't make this shit up. #r4today\u201d
— Briefcase Michael (@Briefcase Michael)
\u201cJohn Cleese says he's "tired and old"... So he'll fit right in with the tired, the old, the incontinent and the intolerable on #GBNews\n#r4today\u201d
— Sir Richard Mountbasket\ud83c\udff3\ufe0f\u200d\ud83c\udf08\ud83c\udff3\ufe0f\u200d\u26a7\ufe0f (@Sir Richard Mountbasket\ud83c\udff3\ufe0f\u200d\ud83c\udf08\ud83c\udff3\ufe0f\u200d\u26a7\ufe0f)
\u201cIn the marketplace of ideas, John Cleese has found his market\u201d
Asked about how his new show with the divisive channel came about, he said: “I don’t know much about modern television because I’ve pretty much given up on it. I mean, English television.“And then I met one or two of the people concerned and had dinner with them, and I liked them very much. And what they said was: ‘People say it’s the right-wing channel – it’s a free speech channel.'”
The Fawlty Towers icon also used his interview with Today’s Amol Rajan to lambast the BBC and lament the state of the country.
“The BBC have not come to me and said: ‘Would you like to have some one-hour shows?’ he said. “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.”
He then added that Monty Python, the sketch show that propelled him to stardom, would not get commissioned today “because it’s six white people, five of whom went to Oxbridge”.
He continued: “Well, the guy who was in charge of light entertainment about four years ago said he wouldn’t commission it now because it’s six white people, five of whom went to Oxbridge. But the point was they made a programme that a lot of people liked.
When asked about his own personal politics and whether he belonged to either the Liberal Democrats or the Social Democratic Party, Cleese said: “No, because I find the whole thing is such a confusing mess.
“After that appalling debate on Brexit, when I thought this country had sunk to the lowest intellectual level I can ever remember, I kind of lost interest.”
Turning to the current state of the UK, he said: “I’m in hotel rooms 10 months of the year, so I’m interested in a lot of political things everywhere. But I don’t think that this country is in a good state at the moment.
“In fact, I think the last three Tory administrations have been progressively more and more disastrous.”
When questioned about his thoughts on the limits of free speech, the comedian responded: “Somebody once said to me: ‘Everyone’s in favour of free speech, particularly for the ideas that they like.'”
We're sure many GB News viewers will like the ideas he comes up with when his new show hits screens next year. Good luck to him.
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