John Cleese sparks outrage by calling Monty Python’s Graham Chapman a ‘poof’ on BBC Radio 4
John Cleese has caused a backlash after referring to his fellow Monty Python member Graham Chapman as a “poof” on BBC Radio 4.
The 78-year-old comedy legend was asked about diversity during this morning’s (July 31) Today show, after his fellow Python Terry Gilliam hit out at efforts to increase diversity earlier this month.
Gilliam called the idea of increasing minority representation “bulls**t,” adding that “I tell the world now I’m a black lesbian… My name is Loretta and I’m a BLT, a black lesbian in transition.”
Cleese, who also starred in Fawlty Towers, was asked by host Nick Robinson: “In this climate, is it fair to say your cast wasn’t particularly diverse?”
He responded: “Well that’s true. As you know Terry has decided he’s a black lesbian.
“And Graham Chapman – I’m not allowed to use the word ‘poof,’ am I? What have I got to say?”
Robinson pointed out that he had already used the slur on the show – which is broadcast live – leading Cleese to respond, laughing: “Right. Graham was homosexual and also dead. So that’s a certain amount of diversity.”
This was a reprise of Cleese’s initial response to criticism of Monty Python for its lack of diversity, which saw him tell the press that the group had “a poof” and “no slave-owners.”
The fact that he said it on BBC Radio 4, however, shocked listeners.
One listener wrote: “John Cleese on @BBCr4today plugging his daughter’s Edinburgh show while complaining about corruption & bemoaning inability to call people poofs these days. aha.
“Stick to skewering the DM, mate, there’s a worthwhile cause.”
John Cleese on @BBCr4today plugging his daughter’s Edinburgh show while complaining about corruption & bemoaning inability to call people poofs these days. aha. stick to skewering the DM, mate, there’s a worthwhile cause.
— Stella Duffy (@stellduffy) July 31, 2018
“He really is quite embarrassingly ghastly,” responded another person.
One listener wrote to Robinson, saying: “Disappointed not to hear you challenge @JohnCleese more on his homophobic language.
“Great comic actor. Disappointingly dated prejudice.”
Disappointed not to hear you challenge @JohnCleese more on his homophobic language. Great comic actor. Disappointingly dated prejudice.
— Pete Ransom (@PeteRansom) July 31, 2018
Another said Cleese “whines about attempts to promote diversity in BBC comedy” and “uses the word ‘poof’ on the radio.
“Hurry up and f**k off to your little island, John, you t**t,” they added.
• Moans that the right wing press are corrupt
• Voted leave, just like the right wing press told him to
• Whines about attempts to promote diversity in BBC comedy
• Uses the word ‘poof’ on the radio
Hurry up and fuck off to your little island, John, you twat.
— Max, Spiller Of Tea ️ (@SpillerOfTea) July 31, 2018
One listener said: “John Cleese on @BBCr4today: ‘I can’t say poof can I?’
“No John, you can’t.”
John Cleese on @BBCr4today
“I can’t say poof can I?”
No John, you can’t.
— Emma Charlotte Smith (@WelshAlienLDN) July 31, 2018
In April, a bishop who resisted the legalisation of homosexuality in Trinidad and Tobago appeared to defend jailing gay people in an interview on the Today programme.
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Bishop Victor Gill claimed that “if homosexuality is gonna be decriminalised, it will criminalise Christian freedom.”
And last year, Heather Brunskell-Evans, a research fellow at King’s College London, was barred from delivering a university lecture after she made anti-trans comments on Radio 4’s Moral Maze.