Brits slam Sky TV for censoring John Oliver’s ‘edgy’ jokes about the queen’s death

A man in a black suit, bowtie and glasses smiling and holding an Emmys trophy
John Oliver attends the 2022 Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A TV network in the United Kingdom has come under fire for censoring a segment about the death of Queen Elizabeth II during the latest episode of “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.”

A number of Brits tweeted their disgust at Sky TV this week after the network appeared to remove Oliver’s jokes about how people and brands reacted to news of the queen’s death last Thursday.

In a clip tweeted by Sky viewer @matthirtyfive, the broadcast abruptly cuts to a “Last Week Tonight” logo following Oliver’s remarks about the president of Chile, skips his commentary on the queen’s death and picks back up with the comedian’s thoughts on the U.K.’s new prime minister.

Queen Elizabeth II saw more than a dozen prime ministers come and go during her record-breaking 70-year reign.

Sept. 8, 2022

“Queen’s death is sadly not the only traumatic event that Britain has had to deal with this week,” Oliver begins his segue, clearly referencing a preceding segment that was not aired.


“Because, on Tuesday, Liz Truss — basically Margaret Thatcher if she were high on glue — became its new prime minister.”

In the uncensored version of Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight” installment on HBO Max, Oliver quips that the U.K. is “clearly still reeling from the shocking death of a 96-year-old woman from natural causes.”

Queen Elizabeth II knighted Elton John in 1998. On Thursday, the singer said the late monarch was known for her ‘grace, decency and a genuine caring warmth.’

Sept. 8, 2022

“It is a big moment, which for some reason, absolutely everyone felt that they had to weigh in on — from [the Swedish cartoon character] Crazy Frog, which tweeted out, ‘R.I.P. the Queen. Candle emoji,’ to Domino’s [Pizza] U.K.,” Oliver continued.

“If the ‘world is mourning,’ [Domino’s U.K.] should maybe tell the U.S. Domino’s account — whose most recent tweet as of this taping is, ‘if ur reading this it means u need pizza. like to confirm.’ Get your f— house in order, Domino’s! A lady is dead!”

Later in the show, Oliver responded to Truss’ defense of profit-making companies by joking, “The nicest thing the Queen of England ever did for anyone was die the week that woman became prime minister. Because, for at least a week, she’s not going to be getting justifiably destroyed for answers like that.”


In Screen Gab No. 51, we take a closer look at the monarch’s canny understanding of TV, catch up with the showrunner of ‘Raising Kanan’ and more.

Sept. 9, 2022

On social media, many called out Sky for altering the episode while sharing links to clips of both the edited and unedited versions of the show.

“We’re not children, @SkyUK, please do not censor Last Week Tonight With John Oliver again just because he says a few edgy things about the royal family,” tweeted @andrewdsweeney.

“We live in a country where you can’t say ANYTHING that might offend the Royals,” tweeted @ThatRossHastie. “F— all of them. Abolish their entire s— regime.”

“Very disappointed in @SkyUK censorship of @LastWeekTonight with @iamjohnoliver,” tweeted @rsmck. “we condemn other countries for this sort of behaviour. The audience is used to his irreverent style and light hearted comments. The ‘target’ of his remarks was corporate social media!”

‘The Crown’ creator Peter Morgan also said that the Netflix period drama is ‘a love letter’ to Queen Elizabeth II, who died Thursday at 96.

Sept. 9, 2022

Representatives for Sky TV, “Last Week Tonight” and John Oliver did not immediately respond Tuesday to The Times’ requests for comment.


On Monday evening, “Last Week Tonight” won its seventh consecutive Emmy Award for variety talk series. The program also clinched the Emmy this year for writing for a variety series.

Lizzo shouting out her ‘Big Grrrls,’ ‘Squid Game’ making history and Sheryl Lee Ralph singing about her win are some of the best 2022 Emmys moments.

Sept. 13, 2022

“We know how lucky we are to get to make the exact show that we want exactly the way that we want to make it — whether that’s making a Korean subway drama, or blackmailing Congress over data brokers or staging an elaborate cabbage wedding,” Oliver said in his acceptance speech at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

“It’s saying, ‘Stop now’ in big letters,” he added, referring to the teleprompter that kept speeches brisk. “I don’t know if that’s for this speech or in general. Either way, it’s a fair point. Thank you so much.”