John Cleese Says Fawlty Towers Reboot Won’t Be ‘About Wokery’

John Cleese has opened up about what the reboot of Fawlty Towers will be about, explaining it won’t be ‘an anti-woke nightmare,’ that some feared it would be.

Cleese has signed a contract with Castle Rock Entertainment to bring the popular show Faulty Towers back to our screens, in which he will reprise his role as Basil Fawlty, and will be joined by his daughter Camilla. 

This comes over forty years after the comedy series came to an end. After a 4-year run on BBC Two, the program – widely recognised as one of the greatest sitcoms ever – left British television in 1979.

For those who don’t know, the show chronicled the misadventures of tense Torquay hotel owner Basil Fawlty and his wife Sybil, played by Cleese and Prunella Scales, as they struggled to maintain their establishment and marriage. 

Castle Rock Entertainment revealed on Tuesday that it has reached an agreement with Cleese to revive the popular show.

The eighty-three-year-old actor and author will reprise his role as Fawlty in the new series, and Camilla, who is also an actress, will co-star as the hotelier’s recently reunited long-lost daughter.

Director Matthew George, producer Derrick Rossi, and actor/filmmaker Rob Reiner will serve as executive producers on the show.

Speaking about the move, Cleese said: “When we first met, he [Matt] 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.”

Rob Reiner added: “John Cleese is a comedy legend. Just the idea of working with him makes me laugh.

“The original show, written by Cleese and Connie Booth, ran on BBC Two for two series in 1975 and 1979. In 2019, it was named the greatest British sitcom of all time by a panel of television experts for Radio Times magazine.

“However, despite its success, Cleese has previously pushed back on the idea of reviving Fawlty Towers. In a 2009 interview, the comedian, then aged 69, said the cast would never make another episode because they are “too old and tired”.

Despite that, it seems he’s recently changed his tune and is more than ready to bring back the beloved character for modern audiences. 

But when it comes to rebooting old classics, fans of the original are almost always skeptical, and it seems the news has caused a lot of mixed opinions online. 

One wrote: “This has disaster written all over it, leave it alone, can’t think of a classic show that reappeared & was any good, porridge, open all hours, fools & horses to name a few. What made FT great was not only Basil but his interaction with those around him in the main cast who won’t be here…”

While another added: “I’m not sure about this. The original worked because of the chemistry between Basil and Sybil mainly, but also between all the main characters. The rework of Porridge didn’t work because that chemistry was missing. What looks good in theory doesn’t always work. I’d rather have a dim and distant memory of something brilliant than a recent memory of a failure.”

Some were also worried that it might be painfully anti-woke. But Cleese shot down that prejudgement, explaining that the new season will see his character move from Torquay to the Caribbean in a ‘small bijou hotel.’

“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,” he said, speaking on GB News.

“The characteristic of Fawlty Towers was the pressure cooker atmosphere created in the hotel.”

John then replied to The Guardian’s headline that said the remake will be “an anti-woke nightmare.”

“They obviously know better than I do what’s going to be in it,” he said. “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.”

Cleese also confirmed that the show won’t be returning to the BBC for the revival, stating that they “wouldn’t get the freedom”.

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