John Cleese has been accused of “casual racism” after describing the editor of The Spectator as a “half-educated tenement Scot”.
The comedy legend was reacting to a piece penned by Fraser Nelson about the Telegraph’s “entrapment” sting of now ex-England manager, Sam Allardyce.
The article defended the paper’s use of such tactics to expose possible corruption, lamenting the demise of investigative journalism and the Leveson Inquiry’s attempt at regulating the industry.
Cleese - a prominent supporter pro-Leveson reform group, Hacked Off - was alerted to the piece on Twitter prompting him to voice his opinion of the author.
”Tenement” refers to high-density housing blocks in Edinburgh and Scotland, historically built to house the poor, leading to slum conditions in many parts.
Cleese’s description prompted a surge of outrage...
One Scot and fellow comedian, Limmy, took a more lighthearted approach to the unfolding drama.
Amongst the wider public however, the Monty Python star was accused of elitism.
After accusations of “casual racism”, Cleese tried to defend his choice of words.
Though this explanation failed to placate his critics.
The conversation quickly turned political with one person drawing parallels between Nelson - born in Nairn, Scotland - running the Spectator to English politicians running the UK.
Despite changing the subject to the political situation in the USA, Scottish social media users were not going to let him get away.
Then there was this gem from Scotland Editor of The Spectator, Alex Massie.
Nelson himself responded to the furore by pointing out an irony in Cleese’s argument.
Cleese has been consistently vocal in his criticism of the press since the launch of the Leveson Inquiry.
In August the Daily Mail ran a piece on his “pot belly”, prompting a possibly brutal response.
Using pictures of the 76-year-old on a recent shopping trip, the piece said:
He was stick thin while playing his most famous character Basil Fawlty.
But John Cleese revealed a considerable paunch while out shopping inLondon recently.
Wearing an unflatteringly tight-fitting t-shirt, the 76-year-old was unable to disguise his rather large beer belly while walking among shoppers.
Unsurprisingly, Cleese was having none of it and in typically unrestrained fashion insinuated he hoped the paper’s editor, Paul Dacre’s next heart-attack “would be his last”.