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Cleese to write autobiography
John Cleese. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian.

Fawlty Towers star John Cleese has signed a deal to publish his first memoir, half a century after launching his entertainment career.

The 72-year-old, who recently married for the fourth time, has struck a deal with Random House for his autobiography.

The publisher said the book "like the man himself, promises to be both hilariously frank and frankly hilarious".

Cleese found his first success in the early 1960s as a TV comedy scriptwriter - after making a name for himself with the Cambridge Footlights - before appearing on The Frost Report and founding the Monty Python's Flying Circus team.

Hollywood success followed later with his lead role in A Fish Called Wanda, and he also had a two-movie stint in the James Bond movies, first as R and then as Q.

His book deal comes in the wake of a stand-up tour, known as the Alimony Tour, which followed the costly collapse of his third marriage and subsequent divorce in 2008.

Cleese said of the book: "It's the perfect moment to look back on my life in anticipation of the next fifty years."

He has previously had publishing success with co-author Robin Skynner, with his two relationship books Families And How to Survive Them and Life And How to Survive It.

Susan Sandon, managing director of Random imprint Cornerstone, said: "Comedy legends' autobiographies really don't come much bigger than John Cleese's.

"Enduringly popular, brilliantly witty and impressively erudite, he is a towering figure in every sense of the word. His memoir will be a major publishing event."

He will work on his book - for which no publishing date has been announced - with the publishing director of Random House Books, Nigel Wilcockson.