John Cleese has said he intends to make a formal complaint against the BBC after being interviewed on BBC World Asia.
The actor and comedian discussed cancel culture and his upcoming stand-up tour in Asia on the channel, before he ended the pre-recorded interview abruptly when asked about the controversy around Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special.
On Twitter following the interview, Cleese said that journalist Karishma Vaswani had tried to portray him as “old-fashioned, uncaring and basically harmful” with her questions regarding cancel culture.
“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 wrote.
…that this was not the interview I had agreed to
So I am formally complaining to the BBC about the deception, dishonesty and tone of this interview
Karishma had no interest in a discussion with me
She wanted only the role of prosecutor
The BBC needs to train her again
— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) December 16, 2021
“She then asked a disjointed question, clearly trying to portray me as old-fashioned, uncaring and basically harmful.”
After saying the interviewer “ignored” his point, Cleese added: “She then asked me about Dave Chappelle. So I removed headphones, saying that this was not the interview I had agreed to.
“So I am formally complaining to the BBC about the deception, dishonesty and tone of this interview. Karishma had no interest in discussion with me. She wanted only the role of prosecutor. The BBC needs to train her again.”
In response, a BBC spokeswoman said: “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 tour.
“Our presenter is an excellent and experienced journalist who conducted the interview entirely within our editorial guidelines.”
Cleese has made a documentary about cancel culture which is set to air in 2022.
Last year, the actor criticised the removal of a Fawlty Towers episode from streaming service UKTV over repeated use of racist language, describing the decision as “stupid”.
“One of the things I’ve learned in the last 180 years is that people have very different senses of humour,” Cleese said.
“Some of them understand that if you put nonsense words into the mouth of someone you want to make fun of you’re not broadcasting their views, you’re making fun of them.”