John Cleese says his comments on London were ‘culturalist’, not racist

Comedian John Cleese has defended his comments about London, saying they were "culturalist" rather than racist.

The former Monty Python star, 79, was criticised for saying the capital is "not really an English city any more".

He was accused of racism online while mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the comments made him sound like his character from classic sitcom Fawlty Towers.

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Prince Harry talks to John Cleese backstage at the Wimbledon Theatre, London, after a charity performance in aid of the Prince's Trust charity, one of a number of events to celebrate the Prince's 60th birthday on November 14.
Monty Python stars (L-R) Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, John Cleese and Michael Palin at a photocall in London's Leicester Square, where they reunited to celebrate their 30th anniversary by attending a charity screening of their film Life Of Brian. * ...to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Relief as a tribute to their late partner Graham Chapman who died a decade ago. Eric Idle was notable by his absence following an apparent fall-out.
Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown is joined by comedian John Cleese for a live election call, in London. Mr Ashdown and Mr Cleese spoke to poeple from around the country who sent in their ideas on a postcard to party following questions from Mr Cleese's in a Liberal Democrat broadcast from February. 20/1/99: Mr Ashdown is to stand down as leader of the Liberal Democrats after the European elections in June and as MP for Yeovil at the next general election.
Monty Python stars (L-R) Michael Palin, Terry Jones, John Cleese and Terry Gilliam at a photocall in London's Leicester Square, where they reunited to celebrate their 30th anniversary by attending a charity screening of their film Life Of Brian. * ...to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Relief as a tribute to their late partner Graham Chapman who died a decade ago. Eric Idle was notable by his absence following an apparent fall-out.
Madonna shares a joke with John Cleese as they wait in line to meet Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh at the premiere of "Die Another Day", at the Royal Albert Hall.
Comedian John Cleese with Irish actor Pierce Brosnan after presenting him with the Outstanding Irish Contribution to Cinema, arriving at the Irish Film & Television Awards, at the Burlington Hotel, Dublin.
Monty Python star John Cleese feeds grapes to Colin the red ruffed lemur, during a visit to Bristol Zoo Gardens.
Prunella Scales, John Cleese, Connie Booth and Andrew Sachs are seen promoting two Fawlty Towers specials created to commemorate the 30 years Fawlty Towers Anniversary.
(Left-right) Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Carol Cleveland, Terry Gilliam and John Cleese announce their new plans for Monty Python at the Corinthia Hotel in London.
John Cleese, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, Graham Norton, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam during the filming of the New Year's Eve Graham Norton Show, at The London Studios, south London, to be aired on BBC One on Tuesday evening.
Michael Palin, Eric Idle and John Cleese are seen on the first day of rehearsals in London, for their new show Monty Python Live (mostly) which is on at the O2 Arena in London on July 1-5, 15, 16, 18-20.
John Cleese, Taylor Swift and Kevin Pietersen appearing on the Graham Norton show, filmed at the London Studios, London, to be aired on BBC One on Friday evening.
John Cleese arriving at Wogan House in London to guest on Zoe Ball's first morning hosting the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show.
Actor and comedian John Cleese speaks to members of the press on College Green outside the Houses of Parliament after he joined the group 'Hacked Off'.
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Cleese, who moved to the island of Nevis in the Caribbean in November last year, has tweeted again, this time arguing his comments were not racist.

He said: "It might interest those people who seem to think my remarks about London are racist as opposed to culturalist, to consider that what I like about spending time in Nevis.

"Nevis has excellent race relations, a very well educated population, no sign of political correctness......

"......no sign of Rupert Murdoch, conscientious lawyers, a relaxed and humorous life style, a deep love of cricket, and a complete lack of knife crime And, of course, wonderful weather."

In another dig at London, Cleese added: "And the icing on the cake is that Nevis is not the world centre for Russian dirty money laundering."

Cleese, who rose to fame in the 1970s as a co-founder of the surrealist comedy group Monty Python, alongside Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Sir Michael Palin, later added to his comments.

He said it is "legitimate" to prefer one culture to another.

"For example, I prefer cultures that do not tolerate female genital mutilation. Will this will be considered racist by all those who hover, eagerly hoping that someone will offend them – on someone else's behalf, naturally", Cleese said.

Cleese has aimed similar accusations at London before.

Eight years ago he said the comedy felt like a foreign city and English culture was fading.

Explaining his decision to emigrate last year, he told the BBC he was "so disappointed with so much about this country".

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