John Cleese 'blacklists himself' from Cambridge Union as historian banned for Hitler impression

John Cleese has 'blacklisted himself' from the Cambridge Union debating Society. Credit: ITV News

Comedian John Cleese said he had "blacklisted himself" from the Cambridge Union after a historian was banned from the debating society for doing an impression of Adolf Hitler.

The Monty Python star, who was due to address the union on Friday, said he had done a similar impression on the sketch show and had made the decision to withdraw from the event "before someone else does".

Mr Cleese apologised to members of the union who were looking forward to his address and suggested an alternative venue be provided "where woke rules do not apply".

His comments came after a backlash over art critic and historian Andrew Graham-Dixon's impression of the German dictator.

The incident occurred on November 4 during a debate on the motion: "This house believes there is no such thing as good taste".

Cambridge Union president Keir Bradwell said the remarks made by Mr Graham-Dixon were "grotesque" and apologised for his lack of intervention at the time.

The Cambridge Union Credit: ITV News Anglia

In a statement he said: "I would like to offer my unreserved apology for the comments made by a speaker in our debate on Thursday night.

"Neither I, nor the society, condones the thoughtless and grotesque language used by the individual in question, and I am sorry for my failure to intervene at the time.

"I and my committee represent an intelligent and diverse membership; I am disappointed that this debate let a number of them down this week."

Mr Graham-Dixon said in a statement: "I apologise sincerely to anyone who found my debating tactics and use of Hitler's own language distressing; on reflection I can see that some of the words I used, even in quotation, are inherently offensive."

The union has been contacted for comment on Cleese's decision to withdraw.

The Cambridge Union building. Credit: ITV News Anglia

On its website The Cambridge Union debating society says it has "over 70,000 life members worldwide and is the oldest debating society in the world, and the largest student society in Cambridge."

It adds that it "remains a unique forum for the free exchange of ideas and the art of public debate.

"The Union Society is proud of our long and extensive tradition of hosting prominent figures from all areas of public life, including the Dalai Lama, President Ronald Reagan, Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, Prime Ministers Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, and John Major."