‘Fawlty Towers’ Reboot: John Cleese and Daughter to Revive the Iconic Sitcom 40 Years Later

John Cleese of 'Fawlty Towers.'

Castle Rock Entertainment announced it has closed a deal to bring back the classic British sitcom 'Fawlty Towers' after 44 years, with John Cleese returning to write and star alongside his daughter Camilla Cleese. (Image: via BBC)

Most people fondly remember classic British sitcoms such as The Office, Blackadder, Last of the Summer Wine, and more. But for many, Fawlty Towers — voted the most significant British sitcom of all time in 2019 — is head and shoulders above the rest. This is because it has such a great fanbase that decades later, people still watch reruns of the show. 

Some successful sitcoms, such as The Office, have had successful U.S. remakes, but previous attempts to remake Fawlty Towers have failed — until now. 

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Now, 40 years after it ended, it was announced in February that there would be a reboot of the sitcom.

What’s ‘Fawlty Towers’ about

Fawlty Towers featured Monty Python’s Flying Circus alum John Cleese, who plays Basil Fawlty, an ill-mannered and cantankerous guy, in his attempts to run a hotel with his wife Sybil (Prunella Scales). The hotel is on the British seaside of Torquay, and their attempt to keep it afloat is often filled with funny interruptions and slapstick humor. 

The show only ran for two 6-episode series in 1975 and 1979. Polly Sherman (Connie Booth) and Manuel (Andrew Sachs) were the other cast members joining the often-at-odds Fawlty couple. Polly was the chambermaid with the cool head, while Manuel was the hapless waiter from Spain who struggled with his English while continually hampering Basil’s efforts. Together with other recurring guests, this cast produced one of the most iconic sitcoms. 

From left to right: Prunella Scales, John Cleese, Connie Booth, and Andrew Sachs in the original ‘Fawlty Towers’ series. (Image: BBC)

What will the reboot be about

Of course, the plot has to change 40 years after it last aired. Although details of the story are unknown, John Cleese said he would reprise his role as Basil. He also said that the reboot would start with the death of Basil’s wife, Sybil. Sadly, this character has to be killed off because Prunella Scales, now 90, who played Sybil, is living with Alzheimer’s.

However, Cleese, now 83, said that his real-life Camille Cleese would be running the hotel alongside him. Both will be writers in the reboot, and they teased us with the plot saying fans will see how the “over-the-top, cynical and misanthropic Basil Fawlty navigates the modern world.” 

He also added that his 38-year-old daughter, Camille, will play his daughter from “a naughty affair” with one of his hotel guests. However, The new show won’t have the iconic Manuela since Andrew Sachis died in 2016. And it’s unknown if Connie Booth will return. Connie, who played the chambermaid, was a co-writer in the original show. She said she hadn’t been contacted about the reboot and only learned it from the media like everyone else.

The show promises to be a great sequel to the beloved original, as Cleese will work with renowned director Rob Reiner.

How can you watch the original Fawlty Towers?

The original sitcom aired in the late 1970s and has been famously difficult to get, primarily through streaming. However, you can purchase it through Amazon or buy its DVD. Also, a subscription to BritBox would allow you to watch it.

Cleese confirmed BBC would not air the new series like the original one. 

John Cleese and his daughter Camilla. (Image: BBC)

Where and when to watch the ‘Fawlty Towers’ reboot

As for the reboot, it is not known where and when it will be aired. What is known is that Rob Reiner’s Castle Rock Entertainment has purchased it. The legendary director and the 1970’s sitcom All in the Family actor Rob Reiner is known for Shawshank Redemption, Seinfeld, When Harry Met Sally, and more. 

In 2009, Cleese said it’s always tricky to top previous achievements, but he is now sure he can. “The problem is, when you do something generally accepted as being very good, a horrible problem arises: how do you top it? This is because the expectation of what you will do is so high,” he said back then.

Rob Reiner had nothing but compliments for Cleese, saying: “Even the thought of working with him [Cleese] makes me laugh.” On the other hand, Cleese said his collaboration with Reiner has been “one of the best creative sessions [he] can remember.”

The reboot has been a long time coming. We hope it will live up to the original.

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