The Daily Telegraph

Fawlty plans a comeback ( just don’t mention the woke)

At 83, John Cleese is to write and star with daughter in a reboot of hit show

- By Craig Simpson

BASIL FAWLTY once panicked about mentioning the war, so how would the hotelier react when faced with the taboos of modern cancel culture?

Fans will soon find out, as Fawlty Towers is to return more than 40 years after the comedy series came to an end.

John Cleese, 83, is in talks to write and star in a new run of the series, according to industry insiders, and is set to appear alongside his daughter Camilla.

The comedy, set in Torquay, depicted the highly strung Fawlty permanentl­y at odds with his hotel guests 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 standup comedy and media appearance­s, has critiqued modern society and “cancel culture” in particular.

The writer and actor, one of the founders of Monty Python, said an early meeting with producers for the 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 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 offering 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”.

Matthew George, a fellow producer, 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 dreamt of one day being involved in a continuati­on of the story. Now it’s come true.”

The original series aired on the BBC, but Cleese clashed with the “cowardly” broadcaste­r, which in 2020 removed the episode “The Germans” from its online platforms amid fears about “ethnic slurs”.

It featured a stand-out moment of comedy, including Cleese’s famous “don’t mention the war” line, spoken as Basil seeks to placate his German guests – a plan that falls apart when he does an over-the-top impression of Adolf Hitler.

Fawlty ran the hotel with wife Sybil, played by Prunella Scales, assisted by the hapless Spanish waiter Manuel (the late Andrew Sachs).

In its top 100 British TV programmes, the British Film Institute gave the series

top spot.

 ?? ?? John Cleese and Prunella Scales
John Cleese and Prunella Scales

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