Graham Norton speaks out against John Cleese and cancel culture: ‘The word should be accountability’

Graham Norton and John Cleese.

Graham Norton has spoken about John Cleese’s contentious views on cancel culture, following the announcement of the comedian’s new GB News TV show.

In a recent appearance at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, Norton said: “The word [cancelled] is the wrong word. I think the word should be ‘accountability’.

“John Cleese has been very public recently about complaining about what you can’t say.

“It must be very hard to be a man of a certain age who’s been able to say whatever he likes for years, and now suddenly there’s some accountability.”

Norton added: “It’s free speech, but not consequence-free. I’m aware of the things I say,”  The Telegraph reports.

Cleese, who is best known as co-writer and star of ’70s TV comedy Fawlty Towers, has been openly critical about cancel culture, and even decried “woke” values as being part of media and entertainment, the Independent reported.

‘The BBC would cancel me’, Cleese said on the BBC

Earlier this week, John Cleese was announced as the presenter of a new show on GB News about “free speech”. The 82-year-old will host the 2023 show alongside presenter Andrew Doyle. 

In an interview with Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday (10 October), Cleese said he wasn’t familiar with GB News when they approached him. He referred to the channel as one that focuses on “free speech”, rather than being right-wing.

Cleese claimed that modern-day TV is something he has “given up on” and he shared in the interview that he would turn down an offer of a BBC show.

“The BBC have not come to me and said, ‘Would you like to have some one-hour shows?’ and if they did, I would say ‘Not on your Nelly!’

“I wouldn’t get five minutes into the first show before I’d been cancelled or censored.”

In 2020 John Cleese faced backlash for tweeting that he “identifies” as a “Cambodian police woman” – a joke seen by many as mocking and derisive of the trans experience.

Please login or register to comment on this story.