Fawlty Towers set to return as John Cleese writes reboot with daughter

Iconic British sitcom Fawlty Towers set to return as John Cleese teams up with his daughter Camilla to write reboot, as tortured hotel manager Basil opens up new boutique property

  • John Cleese is writing a reboot of Fawlty Towers with his daughter Camilla
  • The actor, 83, starred as Basil Fawlty in the sitcom from 1975 to 1979
  • Originally, 12 episodes aired of the iconic series on the BBC 

John Cleese is set to return to screens as Basil Fawlty, with a reboot of the star’s famous comedy Fawlty Towers in the works.

The second and final series ended more than 40 years ago but Monty Python actor John, 83, is writing new episodes of the former BBC programme with his comedian daughter Camilla Cleese, 39.

Developed by actor and filmmaker Rob Reiner’s Castle Rock Entertainment, the new series will look at how cynical and misanthropic snob Basil fares in the modern world, it was announce on Tuesday.

While plot details are mostly being kept under wraps, the story will look at hotel manager Basil’s relationship with his daughter, who he has only recently discovered he is father to.

Despite being tortured by `that annoying section of the general public who insist on staying at hotels’ in the previous two series which ran from 1975 to 1979 for 12 episodes, Basil and his daughter decide to reenter the industry and open up a boutique property.

Comeback: John Cleese, 83, is set to return to screens as Basil Fawlty, with a reboot of the star’s famous comedy Fawlty Towers in the work (John pictured in 2019)

The original series followed the unfortunate exploits of highly-strung Torquay hotelier Basil and his wife Sybil, portrayed by Prunella Scales, as they tried to keep their hotel and marriage afloat.

In 2019, the show was named the greatest British sitcom of all time by a panel of television experts for Radio Times magazine. 

Actor Rob Reiner, his wife and actress Michele Reiner, director and producer Matthew George and Derrick Rossi will act as executive producers on the series.

John said: ‘What I like about Matt is that, 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.

‘Camilla and I look forward enormously to expanding it into a series.’

Producer Matthew said that meeting John and Camilla was one of the ‘great thrills’ of his life, adding: ‘I’m obsessed with Fawlty Towers and the legendary characters he created.

On air: The second and final series ended more than 40 years ago but Monty Python actor John is writing new episodes of the former BBC programme (John is seen as character Basil Fawlty in 1975’s episode one of series one, A Touch of Glass)

‘I’ve watched the first two seasons so many times I have lost count. I dreamed of one day being involved in a continuation of the story. Now it’s come true.’

Rob Reiner said: ‘John Cleese is a comedy legend. Just the idea of working with him makes me laugh.’

Former Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs, who was best known for his portrayal of put-upon Spanish waiter Manuel in the classic sitcom, died at the age of 86 in 2016 following a secret four-year battle with dementia that left him wheelchair-bound and unable to speak.

He passed away in a care home, with his wife Melody, who cared for him tirelessly, saying at the time: ‘My heart has been broken every day for a long time.’  

Family affair: John has teamed up with his comedian daughter Camilla Cleese, 39, to write the new episodes (Camilla pictured in 2018)

She said the couple was happy until the end, adding: ‘I never once heard him grumble.’

Melody told how her husband had been diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2012. It is the second most common form of the disease after Alzheimer’s.

She said: ‘It wasn’t all doom and gloom, he still worked for two years.  

‘We were happy, we were always laughing, we never had a dull moment. He had dementia for four years and we didn’t really notice it at first until the memory started going.

Iconic: John played hotel manager Basil who was tortured by `that annoying section of the general public who insist on staying at hotels’ in the two series from 1975 to 1979 (L-R: Prunella Scales as Sybil, John Cleese as Basil, Connie Booth as Polly and Andrew Sachs as Manuel in 1975)

‘It didn’t get really bad until quite near the end. I nursed Andrew, I was there for every moment of it.’ 

The actor died on November 23 2016 and his family and close friends gathered on November 30 that year for his funeral and burial in North London.

Sybil Fawlty actress Prunella Scales was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014 but, in November last year, her husband Timothy West insisted she was ‘still enjoying life’ after celebrating her 90th birthday in June.

Former Coronation Street star Timothy, 88, told the Mirror: ‘She enjoys life, which is essential really. She likes doing things.

Update: The new series, of which there was originally just 12 episodes made, will see Basil open up a new boutique hotel with a daughter he didn’t know he was father to

‘We’ve just been on a little boat trip around the Greek islands – it was just us enjoying ourselves with no cameras.

‘We had a party this year – quite a big party. About 150 people came!’

Their son Samuel, 56, previously said of her health: ‘She still recognises us and she knows I have two children, so that’s really good.’  

Samuel added to the Mirror that despite her deteriorating hearing, which makes conversation difficult, she is ‘in good spirits’.

He continued: ‘You can never quite tell with dementia what sort of personality it’s going to leave a person with, but on the whole she’s quite cheery. At the moment I’m interviewing them both about their lives, because I want to write a book.’

Farewell: Andrew Sachs, who was best known for his portrayal of put-upon Spanish waiter Manuel in the classic sitcom, died at the age of 86 in 2016 after a dementia battle

Health: Sybil Fawlty actress Prunella Scales was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014 but, in November last year, her husband Timothy West insisted she was ‘still enjoying life’ (John and Prunella pictured in series two)

Aside from Fawlty Towers, John is best known as one of the original members of the Monty Python comedy troupe.

The group produced a number of surreal sketch shows and films including Monty Python And The Holy Grail, Monty Python’s Life Of Brian and Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life.

The actor also revealed last year he was joining GB News after being told it is a ‘free speech channel’.

When announcing the move on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, he said: ‘The BBC have not come to me and said, “Would you like to have some one-hour shows?”

‘And if they did, I would say, “Not on your nelly”, because I wouldn’t get five minutes into the first show before I’d been cancelled or censored.’

Today presenter Amol Rajan replied at the time: ‘Well, we’ve given you five minutes today and I can promise you you haven’t been censored yet.’

Plot: The original series followed the exploits of highly-strung Torquay hotelier Basil and his wife Sybil as they tried to keep their hotel and marriage afloat (John pictured as Basil in 1975)

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