Celebrities

John Cleese asks why BBC no longer airs Monty Python and it immediately backfired

Related video: Monty Python comedian John Cleese calls GB News a 'free speech channel'

Today, BBC

Monty Python star John Cleese has been widely mocked online, after asking why his classic comedy troupe’s shows haven’t appeared on the BBC for “a couple of decades” and seemingly forgetting who owns the broadcasting rights.

Cleese - who is set to join the controversial talk channel GB News with a new TV show next year - has previously decried so-called “cancel culture” and “woke culture”, leading many to suspect the comedian was suggesting the BBC were making an active decision not to show the comedy series.

“Can anyone (including BBC employees) tell me why the BBC has not shown Monty Python for a couple of decades,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

If Cleese simply used one of the many search engines at his disposal, he would realise that the international rights to hit movies such as Life of Brian and Monty Python and the Holy Grail were sold to streaming giant Netflix back in 2018.

Then in March this year, TV channel That’s TV acquired the network television rights to broadcast all four series of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

We’d also like to think he’d be aware of this already, given he’s a member of the comedy troupe himself - alongside Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Sir Michael Palin, and the late Graham Chapman and Terry Jones.

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Nevertheless, in the absence of consulting Google, Twitter was there to mock Cleese instead.

“Coz the BBC sold the license for the show to Netflix. I don’t work for the BBC but it’s pretty easy to find out, John,” replied comedian Sooz Kempner.

Climate writer Dave Vetter was more succinct in his response: “The BBC doesn’t currently own the rights and would be sued.”

Sharon O’Dea, a digital consultant, noted: “They aired Flying Circus in 2004, 2005 and 2019. BBC Two had Python at 50, Lawyers Cut and 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?”

Referencing the iconic ‘what have the Romans ever done for us’ sketch from Life of Brian, ITV digital content editor Alex Watson quipped: “Alright. Apart from 1988, 1994, 1995, 1999, 2004, 2005 and 2019, when has the BBC ever repeated Monty Python?”

So much for “always look on the bright side of life”, eh, John?

The Independent has approached Cleese for comment.

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