Fawlty Towers to be rebooted starring John Cleese and his daughter Camilla
Basil Fawlty famously panicked that anyone should “mention the war” - so how would the hotelier manage to navigate the taboos of modern cancel culture?
Fans will soon find out, as Fawlty Towers is to return more than 40 years after the classic comedy came to an end.
John Cleese, 83, is in talks to write and star in a new run of the British series, according to industry insiders, and is set to appear alongside his daughter Camilla.
The comedy set in Torquay depicted the highly-strung Basil Fawlty clashing with guests of his guesthouse during its original run from 1975 to 1979, and its reboot will focus on an aged but equally abrasive Basil as he confronts maddening trends in the modern world.
Cleese, through his stand-up comedy and media appearances, has himself critiqued modern society and “cancel culture” in particular.
The writer and actor, famed for his involvement with the Monty Python troupe, said an early meeting with producers for the Fawlty Towers project was “one of the best creative sessions I can remember”, adding “Camilla and I look forward enormously to expanding it into a series”.
According to Hollywood trade magazines, the Fawlty Towers reboot is being produced by Rob Reiner’s Castle Rock Entertainment, and its plot will once again revolve around the fortunes of a hotel, this time with Basil attempting to run boutique accommodation with a daughter he never knew he had, played by Camilla.
Reiner, who has directed films including the comedies This is Spinal Tap and When Harry Met Sally, said that Cleese was a “comedy legend” and “just the idea of working with him makes me laugh”.
Fellow producer on the project, Matthew George, said: “Meeting John and Camilla was one of the great thrills of my life. I’m obsessed with Fawlty Towers and the legendary characters he created.
“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.”
The prospect of a new series of Fawlty Towers is likely to excite British fans of the comedy, which is widely regarded as one of Britain’s greatest ever, despite only running for two series.
In 2000, the British Film Institute ranked the series first in its list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes. In 2019 a panel of comedy experts with the Radio Times named it the greatest ever British TV sitcom.
The original series was written by Cleese and his then wife Connie Booth. Cleese starred as the manic Basil, who ran his Torquay hotel with wife Sybil, played by Prunella Scales, with the pair assisted by the hapless Spanish waiter Manue, played by the late Andrew Sachs.
It has become known for stand-out moments of comedy, including Cleese’s famous “don’t mention the war” line, spoken as Basil seeks to placate his German guests, a plan which falls apart when he does an over-the-top impression of Adolf Hitler.
Cleese has himself been at the centre of controversy in recent years, whether by stating his opposition to cancel culture and its impact on comedy, or by publicly defending J.K. Rowling from accusations of “transphobia”.
He also pulled out of a Cambridge Union event after the organisation barred a speaker, Andrew Graham-Dixon, for doing an impression of Hitler to make a point that was critical of Naziism