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Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
Cleese: I'm not leaving
John Cleese
Cleese: Said England "less tolerant of silliness"
Comedy actor John Cleese has said he has not the "slightest intention" of leaving England to live in the United States, as a newspaper interview suggested.

He had been quoted as saying he wanted to leave the country for better weather in a recent interview with Canadian newspaper, the Calgary Sun.

"My basic intention is to split my time," Cleese told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday.

Cleese, who has been working in America on the films Rat Race and Scorched, said that work drew him to the US.

"It's lovely that Harry Potter and the Bond movies are still shot in England - that's a great pleasure, but it's true that most of the well-paid work is in America," he told Today.

The interview also quoted him as saying: "England is less tolerant of silliness than it used to be."

Cleese played down the comment, telling Today: "I think what I may have said is that I didn't think the comedy on English television was of the high quality it has been until rather recently.

John Cleese
In the 70s Cleese played manic hotelier Basil Fawlty
"Oddly enough, I think that for the first time in a very long time the comedy on American television is rather better than what we're producing," he added.

Cleese, who rose to fame with Monty Python team and later as manic hotelier Basil Fawlty, said he felt the quality of UK television had declined in recent years.

John Cleese
Monty Python still has adherents around the globe
"I thought British television was the best in the world.

"And when I had my hip replacement operation I was a bit dopey and I started watching much more television and reading less.

"I suddenly became aware that the television seemed to me to be as bad as everywhere else, and I do think television in England is much less good than it was."

Cleese criticised other aspects of contemporary UK life, including the state of UK transport and other public services.

He also said that theatre was less exciting than in the 60s and 70s - but added that the art and architecture scenes were better.

Cleese's reported comments produced a critical attack from the Mail newspaper, which said he was a "one-joke comedian, and that joke has grown stale".

The comedian said he agreed. "Spot on, absolutely - I think almost everything I've done since about 35 has been a disaster, hasn't it?"

See also:

22 Mar 01 | TV and Radio
John Cleese set for US sitcom
08 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Cleese and Hurley face facts
28 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Cleese lashes out at BBC
20 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Cleese makes faces in prison
27 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Python joins Potter cast
19 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Cleese and Atkinson team up
05 May 00 | Entertainment
Cleese makes internet history
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