’70s British sitcom “Fawlty Towers’ set to return
LONDON, United Kingdom—”Fawlty Towers,” named Britain’s greatest sitcom in a 2019 poll, is set to return with John Cleese reprising his role as the world’s most irascible hotelier, US producers said Tuesday.
The original show, written by the “Monty Python” star and his then-wife Connie Booth, ran on BBC television for two series in 1975 and 1979.
The reboot will feature Basil Fawlty tackling the modern world after teaming up with his long-lost daughter, played by Cleese’s own daughter Camilla, to run a boutique hotel.
Its return was announced by Castle Rock Entertainment, a US production company cofounded by US actor and “This Is Spinal Tap” filmmaker Rob Reiner.
“John Cleese is a comedy legend. Just the idea of working with him makes me laugh,” Reiner said.
The new show’s executive producers include Reiner, his wife and actress Michele Reiner, and director and producer Matthew George.
Cleese said that George, “unlike many producers, he really ‘gets’ the creative process.”
“When we first met, he offered an excellent first idea, and then Matt, my daughter Camilla, and I had one of the best creative sessions I can remember.
“By dessert we had an overall concept so good that, a few days later, it won the approval of Rob and Michele Reiner,” Cleese added.
“Camilla and I look forward enormously to expanding it into a series.”
No dates were given for the project to reach the screen, but the reboot will have work to do to match the original in public esteem.
In 2019, the show was named the greatest British sitcom ever by a panel of TV experts for “Radio Times” magazine.
Following the misadventures of a short-fused and snobbish hotel manager, his sarcastic wife and a bumbling Spanish waiter, it popularized catchphrases such as “Don’t mention the war!”
News of the revival drew a mixed reaction on social media, with some fans noting that the show had originally ended after just a dozen episodes before its quality could be diluted.
“Fawlty Towers had 12 episodes, established itself as a cultural touchstone of British comedy, and then stopped before it got tired. The one thing it doesn’t need is a reboot,” tweeted @AuthorOfNebulae.
Cleese himself has previously appeared to rule out bringing back the show.
“If I ever tried to do a Fawlty Towers-type sitcom again, everyone would say, ‘Well, it’s got its moments, but it’s not as good as Fawlty Towers,’ so there’s not much point in doing that. You have to do different things,” he told The Independent in 2018.
Cleese, 83, has been speaking out against “woke” culture, claiming he can no longer get a fair hearing in mainstream UK media.
He plans to host a chat show on the new channel GB News, which has been broadcasting an array of alternative commentators including some airing conspiracy theories against Covid vaccines.
When announcing the GB News move on BBC radio in October, he said “I wouldn’t get five minutes into the first show (on the BBC) before I’d been canceled or censored.”
The BBC radio presenter replied: “Well, we’ve given you five minutes today and I can promise you, you haven’t been censored yet.”
Camilla Cleese is a Los Angeles-based comedian, writer and actor. /ra
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