John Cleese lets slip new detail about Fawlty Towers reboot

The Monty Python star appeared on The One Show and revealed new information about his revival of the sitcom with daughter Camilla Cleese.

John Cleese pose for the 23rd annual German Comedy Awards at Studio in Koeln Muehlheim on October 2, 2019 in Cologne, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
John Cleese appeared on the BBC's The One Show. (Getty Images)

John Cleese has let slip new details about his reboot of Fawlty Towers.

The 84-year-old Monty Python star appeared on The One Show to discuss the new West End stage show adaptation of the classic sitcom. And while chatting to hosts Alex Jones and Jermaine Jenas he also discussed the Fawlty Towers reboot his working on with his daughter Camilla Cleese.

Cleese has previously revealed he planned to set the revival of the classic sitcom with the the death of Sybil Fawlty, wife of his eccentric Torquay hotelier Basil Fawlty, and move him to the Caribbean to live with his illegitimate daughter. He has now revealed more details about how Basil came to have a child.

John Cleese and Camilla Cleese attend the closing night after party for 'Monty Python Live (Mostly)' at The O2 Arena on July 20, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
John Cleese's daughter Camilla Cleese will play Basil Fawlty's daughter in the Fawlty Towers reboot. (Getty Images)

Cleese revealed that working on the new version of the sitcom was a "slow" process as they had to create new characters. He was expected to reprise the role of Basil and his daughter will play his illegitimate daughter who runs her own hotel in the Caribbean.

He revealed: "She's going to be my illegitimate daughter, because one pretty lady one day came to stay at Fawlty Towers when Sybil wasn't there and she seduced Basil for a bet."

And Cleese revealed plans to feature the beach and outdoor water sports in the new series. He said: "There's no point in setting it in Torquay, we've done that. So we're going to set it in the Caribbean. There's going to be much more stuff shot outside the hotel, and you've got all the water sports and all that kind of thing, so we work in all that."

But he admitted: "It's a slow start because when you create new characters you've got to live with them all through the series so you've got to get it right. So it takes a long time."

Actors (L-R) Andrew Sachs, Prunella Scales, John Cleese, Connie Booth on the set of the BBC television sitcom 'Fawlty Towers', August 3rd 1975. (Photo by Don Smith/Radio Times via Getty Images)
Andrew Sachs, Prunella Scales, John Cleese, and Connie Booth starred in the BBC's comical farce Fawlty Towers. (Getty Images)

Cleese admitted he loves working with family. He said: "It's rather nice – Fawlty Towers I wrote with my first wife. Then A Fish Called Wanda and Fierce Creatures, my elder daughter [Cynthia Cleese] was in both. And now I'm writing with my younger daughter."

He added: "My younger daughter has got a wicked sense of humour. You think I've got a black sense of humour — you should get her on the show."

Watch: John Cleese has apologised for rebooting Fawlty Towers

Fawlty Towers ran for just 12 episodes in the 1970s. Cleese co-wrote the sitcom with ex-wife Connie Booth, who starred alongside him as waitress Polly. The 83-year-old psychotherapist divorced Cleese in 1978, in the midst of making the hit comedy.

The original series also starred the late Andrew Sachs as Spanish waiter Manuel. Sachs died in 2016 at the age of 86. And Prunella Scales, 91, starred as Cleese's on-screen wife Sybil. She announced her retirement from acting in 2020 having been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

John Cleese wrote Fawlty Towers with first wife Connie Booth. (BBC/Alamy)

Cleese discussed the plot for the new Fawlty Towers stage show will comprise characters and details from three episodes of the sitcom: The Hotel Inspector, which guest starred Bernard Cribbins, Communication Problems, and The Germans which features the hotel fire drill.

Cleese revealed he thought the fire drill was the best moment of the whole sitcom. He said: "It is the best single scene in Fawlty Towers, the fire drill. I think."

The actor and comedian also revealed Basil Fawlty was inspired by a real life manager of a hotel he had stayed with in in Torquay.

He said: "When we were shooting for Monty Python way back in '71, we went to stay in this hotel in Torquay called Gleneagles and the guy who ran it should be the last person who should ever run a hotel.

"He was just gloriously rude, no reason at all. And when Connie and I wanted to write something for the BBC we said let's do it in the hotel, Because the advantage of doing it in the hotel is everyone knows how things are supposed to happen."

The One Show airs on BBC One at 7pm Monday to Friday.