- Mon Apr 20, 2020 8:56 am
Talking of the Sun and Python, it's worth revisiting their conduct during the height of the MacKenzie era, and the filming of Meaning of Life.
The paper ran a 'report' from the set, saying that a scene (the battle against the Zulus) had been interrupted by a storm, and John Cleese had exploded in anger, shouting at the mostly black extras "which one of you buggers did a rain dance?".
Cleese complained, saying that a) he never said that, and b) in the wake of major inner city riots and the febrile atmosphere of the early 80s, he did not want to be branded a racist. He challenged MacKenzie to find anyone else on the set who could corroborate the story, adding that he could see how it came about - reporter thinks of a funny situation, featuring Cleese getting all Basil Fawlty-style agitated and annoyed, makes up story to suit.
MacKenzie replied that he had absolute faith in his man's version of events, refusing to accept Cleese's challenge. Not the worst thing he did by a long chalk, but illustrative of their approach.
"There ain't nothing you fear more than a bad headline, is there? You'd rather live in shit than let the world see you work a shovel."