One of the most acclaimed comedy series of all time is returning to TV more than four decades later. “Fawlty Towers,” the beloved British sitcom starring John Cleese, is getting a revival, with the “Monty Python” star set to return.
The show is being developed at Castle Rock Entertainment, with Matthew George, Rob Reiner, Michele Reiner, and Derrick Rossi executive producing for the studio. Cleese will write and star in the revival with his daughter, Camilla Cleese.
“What I like about Matt is that, unlike many producers, he really ‘gets’ the creative process,” Cleese said in a statement announcing the project. “When we first met, he offered an excellent first idea, and then 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. Camilla and I look forward enormously to expanding it into a series.”
The original “Fawlty Towers” ran for two seasons of six episodes each in 1975 and 1979. Written by Cleese and his then-wife Connie Booth, the series starred Cleese as Basil Fawlty, the selfish and hapless proprietor of the titular seaside inn, who schemes to make the run-down establishment a success inevitably end in failure. Prunella Scales starred as Fawlty’s wife Sybil, while Booth and the late Andrew Sachs played the hotel staff.
Despite its brief 12-episode run, the series was widely acclaimed and remains a touchstone of British television. In 2000, the British Film Institute ranked it No. 1 in their list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes. In 2019, Radio Times named it the greatest ever British TV sitcom based on a panel of comedy experts.
The new series will see Cleese return as Basil, with Camilla Cleese starring as his newly discovered daughter, who teams up with him to run a new boutique hotel. It’s unlikely the rest of the original series cast will return; Sachs died in 2016, Scales retired in 2020 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and Booth quit acting in the ’90s.
Cleese is best known for his work in the legendary Monty Python comedy troupe, starring in the ’60s sketch show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” and in the group’s films “the Holy Grail,” “Life of Brian,” and “the Meaning of Life.” He also starred in and wrote the classic 1988 comedy “A Fish Called Wanda,” picking up an Oscar nomination for his screenplay, and starred in films such as “Time Bandits,” “Silverado,” the “Shrek” franchise, and two James Bond films.
“John Cleese is a comedy legend,” Rob Reiner said in a statement. “Just the idea of working with him makes me laugh.”
“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,” George added. “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.”
In recent years, Cleese has become a bit of a lightning rod for statements regarding “cancel culture” and his political positions, which included publicly supporting the controversial 2016 Brexit referendum. Other recent controversies from the comedian include comments that “cancel culture” has a “disastrous effect” on comedy, defending J.K. Rowling from transphobia accusations by joking that he “wants to be a “Cambodian police woman,” and pulling out from a Cambridge Union event after the organization banned a speaker that performed a Hitler impression.
John Cleese is represented by CAA and Anonymous Content. Camilla Cleese is repped by Weintraub Tobin Chediak Coleman Grodin.