John Cleese issues ‘apology’ following backlash to Fawlty Towers reboot: ‘I feel terrible’

Actor is rebooting the Seventies sitcom with his daughter

Annabel Nugent
Wednesday 22 February 2023 16:23 GMT
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John Cleese has issued an “apology” for rebootingFawlty Towers with his daughter, Camilla Cleese.

It was recently announced that the Monty Python’s Flying Circus actor – who starred in the original series as hotel owner Basil Fawlty – is making the reboot in collaboration with Spinal Tap filmmaker Rob Reiner.

Cleese, 83, and Camilla, 39, will write and star in the revival, which is currently in development.

The actor told fans that the forthcoming series – which follows Basil discovering he has a secret daughter and struggling to navigate the modern world – won’t be an “anti-woke nightmare”. He also ruled out BBC hosting the series.

News of the reboot divided fans of the original series, with many critics urging that Fawlty Towers should be left alone.

Cleese responded to the criticism with a sarcastic apology posted to Twitter on Monday (20 February).

“I must apologise,” he wrote. “I had no idea that the idea of writing a new sitcom with my daughter would cause so much anger and distress.

“I truly meant no harm. Naively, I thought it might be fun. But I feel terrible about having released this idea of negative emotion. Please forgive me.”

As well as Reiner, Michele Reiner, Derrick Rossi, and Matthew George will serve on the show as executive producers.

The news of a revival comes as somewhat of a surprise given that Cleese appeared to dismiss the possibility during an interview with The Independent in 2018.

You wanted Fawlty Towers to be as good as possible, and it’s done and you’re proud of it, and then you suddenly realise that the bar has now got too high,” he said.

The original cast of ‘Fawlty Towers’: Prunella Scales, John Cleese, Connie Booth and Andrew Sachs, pictured in 2009
The original cast of ‘Fawlty Towers’: Prunella Scales, John Cleese, Connie Booth and Andrew Sachs, pictured in 2009 (Getty Images)

“If I ever tried to do a Fawlty Towers-type sitcom again, everyone would say, ‘Well, it’s got its moments, but it’s not as good as Fawlty Towers’, so there’s not much point in doing that. You have to do different things.”

The original Fawlty Towers ran for two seasons, consisting of six episodes each, in 1975 and 1979.

It is widely considered one of the best comedy series ever made.

Alongside Cleese, the original series starred Prunella Scales as Basil’s wife Sybil, Connie Booth – Cleese’s then-wife who co-created the series – and the late Andrew Sachs as hotel employee Manuel.

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