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Fawlty Towers moves from Torquay to the West End with stage adaptation

Fawlty Towers fans will have a chance to experience the sitcom live, as the classic British comedy series heads to the West End.

The original BBC series was written by John Cleese and Connie Booth, and centred on the staff of a fictional hotel in Torquay, Devon.

Cleese played the uptight hotel manager Basil Fawlty, with Booth as sensible chambermaid Polly. Prunella Scales played Basil’s bossy wife, Sybil, and Andrew Sachs played Manuel, the hapless Spanish waiter.

The stage show has been adapted by Cleese using material from three episodes of the series – “The Hotel Inspectors”, “The Germans” and “Communication Problems”. Though it had already been staged in Australia, this marks the first time the show will be performed for UK audiences.

In a statement, Cleese shared his delight that the show would be taking a new form on the stage.

“What a thrill to be bringing Fawlty Towers to the West End for the first time – nearly 50 years since the show was first recorded, in December 1974,” he said.

“We’ve been involved in the casting process for some time, being constantly reminded of what a wealth of acting talent we have in Britain – sorting the very, very, very good from the merely very, very good. Finally, we assembled a top-class group of comedy actors who will bring the show to the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue.”

John Cleese and the Fawlty Towers stage cast (Getty/Trevor Leighton)
John Cleese and the Fawlty Towers stage cast (Getty/Trevor Leighton)
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After noting that the play is an amalgamation of three of his favourite episodes with “one huge finale” to tie them up, Cleese concluded with his hopes that the audience will enjoy themselves while watching the two-hour adaptation.

“So here we are, all the way from Torquay, via the old BBC Television Centre, to the West End! I do hope some of you will come to the Apollo to laugh together. And laugh. And laugh………”

Fawlty Towers – Adam Jackson-Smith as Basil, and Anna-Jane Casey as Sybil (PA)
Fawlty Towers – Adam Jackson-Smith as Basil, and Anna-Jane Casey as Sybil (PA)

The play’s action kicks off with the staff receiving a tip-off that hotel inspectors may be visiting and eager to impress, so Basil (Adam Jackson-Smith) attempts to ingratiate himself with guests that he believes are reviewing the establishment.

Cue several distractions, a party of German guests, and a “dotty guest-from-hell”, Mrs Richards, whose infuriating complaints prevent Basil from hiding a gambling win from the ever-vigilant Sybil (Anna-Jane Casey).

The cast of the Fawlty Towers play (PA)
The cast of the Fawlty Towers play (PA)

Tickets for the play will go on sale on Wednesday 7 February at 10am, from FawltyTowersWestend.com.

Last year, Cleese issued a statement “apologising” for his decision to make a TV revival of the series with his daughter Camilla.