John Cleese has hinted that his Fawlty Towers reboot could be set in the Caribbean instead of Torquay, as the TV legend revealed he refused to let the series return to the ‘woke’ BBC.
The actor, who played grumpy hotelier Basil Fawlty in the classic sitcom, claimed last night he wouldn’t be allowed the necessary ‘freedom’ with the public service broadcaster.
And as well as turning his back on the beeb, the 83-year-old may also be ditching the English Riviera, as he looks to set new episodes of the programme in more tropical surroundings.
Cleese himself moved to the small island of Nevis in 2018, claiming to be fed up with ‘lying and triviality’ of British press.
Speaking about the new series on Dan Wootton Tonight on GB News, he said: ‘When I look at old clips now all these wonderful English character actors aren’t with us anymore, so suddenly we thought that if the only continuing character is Basil, then we can come up with something surprising.
John Cleese has hinted that his Fawlty Towers reboot could be set in the Caribbean instead of Torquay, as the TV legend revealed he refused to let the series return to the ‘woke’ BBC
The actor, who played grumpy hotelier Basil Fawlty in the classic sitcom, claimed last night he wouldn’t be allowed the necessary ‘freedom’ with the public service broadcaster
‘Then we thought, ‘Where?’ Not in a small English town, but somewhere more fun and much more different – say a Caribbean island or something like that with a small bijou hotel with a few rich people coming to stay!’
When Fawlty Towers was originally broadcast in the 1970s, it won several Baftas, including for best scripted comedy, with Cleese also picking up the award for best entertainment performance.
The Monty Python star is yet to say which channel will show the remake, and while details are secret, it is assumed it will avoid very ‘un-woke’ scenarios of the original show.
One episode, The Germans, featured Basil leaving a German guest in tears with repeated mentions of the war.
In another the character Major Gowen, played by Ballard Berkeley, repeatedly used the N-word about the West Indies cricket team. It was temporarily pulled by streaming service UKTV.
The sequel will be written alongside his daughter, Camilla Cleese, as he revealed they have been working together for some 16 years.
However, he acknowledged there would have to be changes following the death of Andrew Sachs, who played hapless waiter Manuel, and the Alzheimer’s diagnosis of Prunella Scales, who starred as his on-screen wife, Sybil.
Cleese said last night: ‘I’m not doing it with the BBC because I won’t get the freedom. I was terribly lucky before, because I was working for the BBC in the late Sixties, Seventies, and the beginning of the Eighties.
‘That was the best time because the BBC was run by people with real personalities who loved the medium and who were operating out of confidence, which was okay because there wasn’t so much competition.
‘Then John Birt came in and said if the BBC didn’t match the viewing figures that the commercial channels were getting they’d get their license revoked.
Cleese was speaking about the new series on Dan Wootton Tonight on GB News
Prunella Scales, John Cleese, Ballard Berkeley in the Fawlty Towers episode Communication Problems
‘So then they started going for the biggest audiences and tended to go for the lowest common denominator while always denying they were doing that.
‘If you look at a paper now from 1985 and look at the TV shows available that evening and compare what they are now – basically in Britain we’ve gone from what was a middle-class culture with all its failings to a tabloid culture and that is why there is so much of this screaming at people.’
Meanwhile Cleese said he couldn’t wait to start fronting a new GB News programme called the Dinosaur Hour.
He said: ‘I’m excited. I’ve been working with a couple of guys on it. And the whole idea of being able to create a show from scratch without anyone looking over our shoulders is extraordinary.
‘I mean, you wouldn’t get an offer like this anywhere else on the planet. It’s extraordinary. And I’m really looking forward to it because I think that there are so many cliches in ordinary television so it would be nice just to try and avoid those.’
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