John Cleese is struggling to persuade guests to discuss ‘woke issues’ on GB News show

Cleese’s show ‘The Dinosaur Hour’ launches later this month

Ellie Harrison
Sunday 08 October 2023 13:59 BST
John Cleese says he's 'too naughty' for a knighthood

John Cleese has said guests are reluctant to discuss “woke issues” on his GB News show for fear of losing their jobs.

The Fawlty Towers actor and comedian, 83, will launch his 10-part GB News show, The Dinosaur Hour,on 29 October.

In an interview with Michelle Dewberry on GB News, Cleese said: “I want to discuss woke issues on The Dinosaur Hour and we couldn’t get people on. One woman said: ‘It’s wrong even to discuss it.’

“In other words, they just want us to accept all their ideas and they’re not prepared to discuss them.”

He added: “One university professor from Oregon told me that more people have been fired during the woke period than were fired during McCarthyism in the Fifties.

“They go after people and an awful lot of people are very, very scared of that, which is why people with a higher profile have to discuss it as they’re not frightened of getting fired.

“Most people are frightened of getting fired and the people who employ them are frightened of getting fired and that end of woke is not very nice.”

Speaking about how he came to have a show on GB News, Cleese said: “They came to me a few months ago and they made me the most extraordinary offer that’s ever been made to anyone in the history of television.

“They said: ‘Would you like to do 10 shows, you can do whatever you like?’ Can you imagine the BBC doing that?

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“It would be subject to committee A and then after committee B has approved it, you’d go to committee B.

“They said you can do anything and I’ve had no interference of any kind and it has been joyful.”

The ‘Fawlty Towers’ actor John Cleese launches ‘The Dinosaur Hour’ on 29 October (Getty Images)

Despite this, Cleese has not held back from criticising the channel. Earlier this week, he called out GB News presenter Mark Dolan for what he called “really appalling” behaviour – Dolan had called Meghan Markle “Woko Mono” on several occasions.

Cleese posted on Twitter: “It seems to me that GB News is harming itself by putting out this nasty, vulgar rubbish.”

He did not comment, however, on the furore surrounding Laurence Fox’s misogynistic comments on GB News, which led to him being sacked by the channel this week.

The divisive former actor was widely criticised following an ugly outburst in which he asked about the political journalist Ava Evans “who would want to shag her?”

Following a week-long probe GB News finally fired the controversial broadcaster on Wednesday 4 October.

Fellow GB News host Calvin Robinson was also fired, and later claimed there was a “civil war” raging at GB News, which he mocked as “the so-called home of free speech – no, no, no, not that speech”.

“We are not the first and we are not the last,” he said of his and Fox’s sacking, claiming the channel was “trying to push us out anyway”.

“There is a division, there is a civil war going on at GB News,” he said, adding that “there are a lot of people there that hate” certain presenters whom he described as “the truth-seekers” and “freedom fighters”.

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