John Cleese has said his surprise revival of Fawlty Towers won’t be returning to its original home on the BBC because the UK broadcaster would not give him sufficient editorial freedom.
The 83-year-old British comedy icon said the revived series, which is in the works at Rob Reiner’s Castle Rock Entertainment, would find a new home as he writes scripts with his daughter Camilla Cleese.
Asked if he wanted to work with the BBC, he said: “No, because you wouldn’t get the freedom.”
He told GB News, the right-leaning British news channel, that the series will take the central character of Basil Fawlty and transport him from his hotel in Torquay to the Caribbean.
Set 40 years after the second season, Cleese said a “small bijou hotel” on a Caribbean island would provide the perfect backdrop for a modern Fawlty.
“If you put it in the Caribbean, it becomes very multi-racial. People in the hotel business come from everywhere, so you can bring lots of different people together. The characteristic of Fawlty Towers was the pressure cooker atmosphere created in the hotel.”
GB News presenter Dan Wootton read Cleese a headline from The Guardian, which said the Fawlty Towers reboot would be “an anti-woke nightmare.”
Cleese responded: “They obviously know better than I do what’s going to be in it. Maybe they should write an episode for me that they would find acceptable. Might not be very funny, but I’m sure it would really please some of their readers.”
He added: “The idea that it’s all going to be about wokery hadn’t particularly occurred to me.”
Although it only ran for two seasons, finishing in 1979, Fawlty Towers has ranked No. 1 on numerous best all-time British comedy lists.
Written by Cleese and Connie Booth, the show followed hapless hotel manager Fawlty and a cast of characters that included Spanish waiter Manuel (Andrew Sachs), Cleese’s bossy wife Sybil (Prunella Scales) and their chambermaid Polly (Booth).
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