John Cleese reveals plot details for upcoming Fawlty Towers reboot

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John Cleese is set to kill off his Fawlty Towers character Basil Fawlty’s wife Sybil when the comedy makes its comeback.

It was announced in February a reboot was in the works after the second and final series ended more than 40 years ago.

Actor John, 83, starred as Basil in the original 12 episodes of the sitcom from 1975 to 1979, with Prunella Scales, now 90 and living with Alzheimer’s, appearing alongside him as Sybil.

John has been writing new episodes of the former BBC programme with his comedian daughter Camilla Cleese, 39.

The new version of the show will also see Basil’s illegitimate daughter being introduced after the character had an affair with a hotel guest.

End of the road: John Cleese, 83, is set to kill off his Fawlty Towers character Basil Fawlty's wife Sybil when the comedy makes its comeback (John pictured in October 2019)

End of the road: John Cleese, 83, is set to kill off his Fawlty Towers character Basil Fawlty’s wife Sybil when the comedy makes its comeback (John pictured in October 2019)

In character: John starred as Basil in the original 12 episodes of the sitcom from 1975 to 1979, with Prunella Scales, now 90 and living with Alzheimer’s, appearing alongside him as Sybil (John and Prunella seen in character for the original series)

In character: John starred as Basil in the original 12 episodes of the sitcom from 1975 to 1979, with Prunella Scales, now 90 and living with Alzheimer’s, appearing alongside him as Sybil (John and Prunella seen in character for the original series)

John told The Sun: ‘The new one starts with Sybil’s death and Basil’s daughter getting a text message from her father saying, “Sybil did”.

‘She texts back, “Sybil did what?” Basil is about to deliver the eulogy and says what an absolutely wonderful woman Sybil was.

‘And then the camera pans around and you see that behind his back he has his fingers crossed.’

Cybil was often on the receiving end of cantankerous Basil’s insults, with the character calling her a ‘rancorous, coiffured old sow’ or ‘my little nest of vipers’.

John added: ‘Sybil dies and Basil goes to see his daughter because it was all part of a naughty affair that he once had with a guest at the hotel.

‘My daughter will probably be a hotelier who’s running this small hotel. It’s going to be a sort of slightly posh boutique hotel in the Caribbean with a multicultural staff because that’s the world of hotels.

‘And there’ll be no one in except Basil.’

Developed by actor and filmmaker Rob Reiner’s Castle Rock Entertainment, the new series will look at how cynical and misanthropic snob Basil fares in the modern world.

On air: The second and final series ended more than 40 years ago but Monty Python actor John is writing new episodes of the former BBC programme (John is seen as character Basil Fawlty in 1975's episode one of series one, A Touch of Glass)

On air: The second and final series ended more than 40 years ago but Monty Python actor John is writing new episodes of the former BBC programme (John is seen as character Basil Fawlty in 1975’s episode one of series one, A Touch of Glass)

The story will look at hotel manager Basil’s relationship with his daughter, who he has only recently discovered he is father to.

Despite being tortured by ‘that annoying section of the general public who insist on staying at hotels’ in the previous two series which ran from 1975 to 1979 for 12 episodes, Basil and his daughter decide to reenter the industry and open up a boutique property.

The original series followed the unfortunate exploits of highly-strung Torquay hotelier Basil and his wife Sybil, portrayed by Prunella Scales, as they tried to keep their hotel and marriage afloat.

In 2019, the show was named the greatest British sitcom of all time by a panel of television experts for Radio Times magazine.

Actor Rob Reiner, his wife and actress Michele Reiner, director and producer Matthew George and Derrick Rossi will act as executive producers on the series.

John said: ‘What I like about Matt is that, unlike many producers, he really “gets” the creative process.

‘When we first met, he offered an excellent first idea, and then Matt, my daughter Camilla, and I had one of the best creative sessions I can remember.

‘By dessert we had an overall concept so good that, a few days later, it won the approval of Rob and Michele Reiner.

‘Camilla and I look forward enormously to expanding it into a series.’

Family affair: For the reboot Cleese has teamed up with his daughter Camilla, whose mother is his second wife Barbara Trentham (Camilla pictured in 2018)

Family affair: John has teamed up with his comedian daughter Camilla Cleese, 39, to write the new episodes (Camilla pictured in 2018)

Producer Matthew said that meeting John and Camilla was one of the ‘great thrills’ of his life, adding: ‘I’m obsessed with Fawlty Towers and the legendary characters he created.

‘I’ve watched the first two seasons so many times I have lost count. I dreamed of one day being involved in a continuation of the story. Now it’s come true.’

Rob Reiner said: ‘John Cleese is a comedy legend. Just the idea of working with him makes me laugh.’

Former Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs, who was best known for his portrayal of put-upon Spanish waiter Manuel in the classic sitcom, died at the age of 86 in 2016 following a secret four-year battle with dementia that left him wheelchair-bound and unable to speak.

He passed away in a care home, with his wife Melody, who cared for him tirelessly, saying at the time: ‘My heart has been broken every day for a long time.’

She said the couple was happy until the end, adding: ‘I never once heard him grumble.’

Iconic: John played hotel manager Basil who was tortured by `that annoying section of the general public who insist on staying at hotels' in the two series from 1975 to 1979 (L-R: Prunella Scales as Sybil, John Cleese as Basil, Connie Booth as Polly and Andrew Sachs as Manuel in 1975)

Iconic: John played hotel manager Basil who was tortured by `that annoying section of the general public who insist on staying at hotels’ in the two series from 1975 to 1979 (L-R: Prunella Scales as Sybil, John Cleese as Basil, Connie Booth as Polly and Andrew Sachs as Manuel in 1975)

Melody told how her husband had been diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2012. It is the second most common form of the disease after Alzheimer’s.

She said: ‘It wasn’t all doom and gloom, he still worked for two years.

‘We were happy, we were always laughing, we never had a dull moment. He had dementia for four years and we didn’t really notice it at first until the memory started going.

‘It didn’t get really bad until quite near the end. I nursed Andrew, I was there for every moment of it.’

The actor died on November 23 2016 and his family and close friends gathered on November 30 that year for his funeral and burial in North London.

Sybil Fawlty actress Prunella Scales was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014 but, in November last year, her husband Timothy West insisted she was ‘still enjoying life’ after celebrating her 90th birthday in June.

Former Coronation Street star Timothy, 88, told the Mirror: ‘She enjoys life, which is essential really. She likes doing things.

Update: The new series, of which there was originally just 12 episodes made, will see Basil open up a new boutique hotel with a daughter he didn't know he was father to

Update: The new series, of which there was originally just 12 episodes made, will see Basil open up a new boutique hotel with a daughter he didn’t know he was father to

‘We’ve just been on a little boat trip around the Greek islands – it was just us enjoying ourselves with no cameras.

‘We had a party this year – quite a big party. About 150 people came!’

Their son Samuel, 56, previously said of her health: ‘She still recognises us and she knows I have two children, so that’s really good.’  

Samuel added to the Mirror that despite her deteriorating hearing, which makes conversation difficult, she is ‘in good spirits’.

He continued: ‘You can never quite tell with dementia what sort of personality it’s going to leave a person with, but on the whole she’s quite cheery. At the moment I’m interviewing them both about their lives, because I want to write a book.’

Aside from Fawlty Towers, John is best known as one of the original members of the Monty Python comedy troupe.

The group produced a number of surreal sketch shows and films including Monty Python And The Holy Grail, Monty Python’s Life Of Brian and Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life.

Farewell: Andrew Sachs, who was best known for his portrayal of put-upon Spanish waiter Manuel in the classic sitcom, died at the age of 86 in 2016 after a dementia battle

Farewell: Andrew Sachs, who was best known for his portrayal of put-upon Spanish waiter Manuel in the classic sitcom, died at the age of 86 in 2016 after a dementia battle

Health: Sybil Fawlty actress Prunella Scales was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2014 but, in November last year, her husband Timothy West insisted she was 'still enjoying life' (John and Prunella pictured in series two)

Health: Sybil Fawlty actress Prunella Scales was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014 but, in November last year, her husband Timothy West insisted she was ‘still enjoying life’ (John and Prunella pictured in series two)

The actor also revealed last year he was joining GB News after being told it is a ‘free speech channel’.

When announcing the move on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, he said: ‘The BBC have not come to me and said, “Would you like to have some one-hour shows?”

‘And if they did, I would say, “Not on your nelly”, because I wouldn’t get five minutes into the first show before I’d been cancelled or censored.’

Today presenter Amol Rajan replied at the time: ‘Well, we’ve given you five minutes today and I can promise you you haven’t been censored yet.’

Plot: The original series followed the exploits of highly-strung Torquay hotelier Basil and his wife Sybil as they tried to keep their hotel and marriage afloat (John pictured as Basil in 1975)

Plot: The original series followed the exploits of highly-strung Torquay hotelier Basil and his wife Sybil as they tried to keep their hotel and marriage afloat (John pictured as Basil in 1975)



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