John Cleese Officially Returning To His Best Role For Revival

John Cleese is working with his daughter Camilla on a revival of the legendary sitcom Fawlty Towers.

By Nathan Kamal | Updated

john cleese fawlty towers
Fawlty Towers

John Cleese is officially starring in a revival of the seminal British sitcom Fawlty Towers, which ran for two seasons (series, to the Brits) on BBC2 in the late 1970s. According to Variety, the legendary British sitcom is being revived by Cleese and his daughter Camilla Cleese and is being executive produced by Matthew George, Michele Reiner, Derrick Rossi, and Rob Reiner for his production company Castle Rock Television. The original series is generally regarded as one of the greatest British television shows of all time and the Monty Python member’s best solo work, and has consistently aired on the BBC since it was released.

According to John Cleese, the Fawlty Towers revival was initially prompted by an idea of Matthew George’s, saying: “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.” Reiner himself is a comedy legend, having starred in and directed the original rock mockumentary This is Spinal Tap and one of the most influential romantic comedies of all time, When Harry Met Sally…

John Cleese co-created and co-wrote Fawlty Towers with his then-wife Connie Booth, who also starred in the series. It was broadcast from 1975 to 1979, with Cleese playing the easily irritated, inept hotel owner Basil Fawlty, Booth playing his only competent employee Polly, and Andrew Sachs playing a good-natured but dimwitted Spanish waiter named Manuel. The series was originally inspired by an incident in which the Monty Python troupe (consisting of Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, and John Cleese) stayed at a hotel with a bizarrely hostile owner/manager, which eventually became Fawlty Towers.

john cleese fawlty towers

The new John and Camilla Cleese Fawlty Towers will involve Basil discovering he has a daughter and attempting to run a boutique hotel with her, no doubt encountering no end of frustrating situations and colorful characters. In true British sitcom fashion, the original show consists of a mere 12 episodes, so there is plenty of space for Basil and his daughter to get into arguments and bewildering situations with their guests.

In recent years, John Cleese has increasingly been known for his outspoken statements against “cancel culture” and modern “woke” activists, frequently declaring himself to have been preemptively canceled by society for his views and allegedly defending author J.K. Rowling’s controversial views on trans people. It feels very likely that many of his latter-day opinions and cultural grievances will find their way into the show, but we will simply have to wait and see what happens there.

While this is the first time John Cleese has fully revived Fawlty Towers as a comedy series, both he and the other actors have frequently referenced or reprised their characters. As recently as 2016, Cleese appeared as Basil Fawlty in an ad for the British optician chain Specsavers and reunited with Connie Booth to adapt the show for the stage in Australia.