John Cleese pulls out of Cambridge University talk over 'woke rules'

10 November 2021, 21:08 | Updated: 10 November 2021, 21:16

John Cleese blacklisted himself from the university.
John Cleese blacklisted himself from the university. Picture: Getty

By Emma Soteriou

Comedian John Cleese has pulled out of a talk at Cambridge University over "woke rules".

The Monty Python actor "blacklisted himself" from the Cambridge Union after a historian who impersonated Adolf Hitler during a society debate was banned.

He argued that he also did a similar impression while on the popular sketch show, so made the decision to withdraw before someone else made him step down.

Mr Cleese offered an apology to those planning to attend, suggesting they instead find a venue where "woke rules do not apply".

Read more: 'Go too woke, risk going broke' Oliver Dowden warns government-funded organisations

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Mr Cleese tweeted: "I was looking forward to talking to students at the Cambridge Union this Friday, but I hear that someone there has been blacklisted for doing an impersonation of Hitler.

"I regret that I did the same on a Monty Python show, so I am blacklisting myself before someone else does.

"I apologise to anyone at Cambridge who was hoping to talk with me, but perhaps some of you can find a venue where woke rules do not apply."

Read more: Globe Theatre to include warning for upsetting themes in 'woke' Romeo and Juliet

Mr Cleese was due to visit the University of Cambridge as part of a documentary he is making on "woke culture", it is understood.

Cambridge Union president Keir Bradwell said it was a "huge shame" that Mr Cleese felt he could not attend.

"We were really looking forward to hosting John here," he said.

"It would have been a really fantastic event and our members are really excited to hear from him, the documentary he is making is extremely topical.

"We very much hope that we will be able to host him at some point...he's the kind of speaker that would thrive with our audience and in our room.

"It's a huge shame he has withdrawn but we're hoping to resolve the situation as soon as possible."

Mr Bradwell explained that the "blacklist" was a list of speakers who were recommended not to be invited back to future events, but that they were not binding.

It comes after art critic and historian Andrew Graham-Dixon faced a backlash over his impression of the German dictator.

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