John Cleese says children hardly recognise him and blames BBC for failing to air Monty Python repeats

  • John Cleese said Monty Python has not been on terrestrial TV for 20 years 
  • He said: ‘I used to walk into a shop and everyone would recognise me’
  • The 80-year-old comedian was at a question and answer session for fans
  • He believes young people would love to watch Monty Python’s Flying Circus  

He may be a legend of comedy, famous for hits including Fawlty Towers and A Fish Called Wanda, yet John Cleese says that today’s young people barely recognise him.

And the reason?

The actor blames the BBC for failing to broadcast repeats of Monty Python in the past two decades.

‘The BBC has not put Monty Python out on terrestrial television now for 20 years and young people don’t know about it,’ Cleese, 80, told his fans in a question and answer session.

John Cleese has blamed the BBC’s refusal to broadcast Monty Python’s Flying Circus on terrestrial television means that young people no longer recognise who he is

Cleese’s complaint comes after Shane Allen, former head of comedy at the BBC, said in a 2018 interview that times had moved on from Python’s ‘six Oxbridge white blokes’

‘I used to walk into shops and everybody would recognise me.

‘Now young people have no idea who I am and it seems odd as I think they would enjoy Python.

‘A lot of Python fans took their children to the O2 when we did the reunion there and the young people loved it – they came out and said to their parents, “I had never heard of these people before”. The enthusiasm in America for Python is much stronger than it is in the UK.’

Cleese’s complaint comes after Shane Allen, former head of comedy at the BBC, said in a 2018 interview that times had moved on from Python’s ‘six Oxbridge white blokes’.

The actor, who celebrated the 50th anniversary of Monty Python’s Flying Circus last year, made his comments during a Q&A with his fans on the website Fanmio.

Cleese also opened up about his troubled relationships — having forked out more than £25 million in divorce settlements across three failed marriages.

In particular, Cleese said he felt like he had been dating his ‘depressed’ mother his whole life.

He added: ‘Sometimes you marry someone because they have in them, at an unconscious level, something about your mother.’

But he says his fourth wife Jennifer Wade, 48 – the jewellery designer he married in 2012 – has made him ‘the happiest he has ever been’, adding: ‘If you can find the love of your life at 73 there is no point giving up hope.’

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