John Cleese reveals next Fawlty Towers ‘surprises’ and why BBC is no place for the remake

The Fawlty Towers remake will be a multiracial show set in a Caribbean hotel, John Cleese has revealed. 

Cleese is reprising his role as hotelier Basil Fawlty, but said it will be set a long way from its original Torquay home.

He is co-writing the new show with his daughter, and told GB News: “We thought we could come up with something quite surprising.

“We thought, where? No, not in a small English town. Much more fun and much more different if it’s say, a Caribbean island or something like that with a small, bijou hotel but with a few very rich people coming to stay.

“If you put it in the Caribbean, it becomes very, very multiracial. People in the hotel business are just from everywhere.”

Suggestions that Basil will take on ‘woke’ culture are wide of the mark, Cleese added.

“The idea that it’s all going to be about wokery hadn’t particularly occurred to me,” he said. “I don’t see that will be relevant to a bijou hotel that’s run in the Caribbean.”

His wife had told him that the setting bore similarities with US hit The White Lotus, Cleese said.

The former Monty Python star, 83, said he had to make the show very different from the original because he will be the only returning cast member.

Andrew Sachs, who played Manuel, died in 2016; Prunella Scales, who played Sybil, has Alzheimer’s; and Connie Booth, who played Polly and co-wrote the show with Cleese (her then husband) left acting to pursue a career as a psychotherapist.

“A sequel, first of all is interesting, and secondly does not rely on Manuel – dear Andrew Sachs, who isn’t with us any more. Prunella Scales, it is generally known, has difficulty remembering stuff now. And certainly almost everybody else is dead, all those wonderful English character actors. The only continuing character is Basil,” Cleese explained.

The new will be made by a US production company and does not currently have a home, but Cleese said it would not appear on the BBC.

“No, because you wouldn’t get the freedom,” he said. “You see, I was terribly lucky, I was working for the BBC in the late ‘60s, ‘70s, beginning of the ‘80s and that was the best time because the BBC was run by people with personality.”

Cleese said that under John Birt, who was director-general from 1992-2000, the BBC aped commercial channels and went for the “lowest common denominator”.

“Basically, in Britain we’ve gone from what was a middle class culture with all its failings to a tabloid culture,” he said.

Cleese is also working on a new discussion show for GB News, which will tackle “subjects that get people upset”.

“There are a lot of good angles to ‘woke’ but then it goes to crazy extremes,” he said.

“There is a huge argument about wokery and some of it stems from a very good idea, which is: let’s try to be kind to people. But I believe it has become far too dominated by people who are frightened of offending people. I think you have to allow offence.”

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