Rebooted Fawlty Towers

For discussion of the upcoming Fawtly Towers reboot.


I have no idea what to think here-


That article is paywalled. Does it say if it’s an actual reboot or a continuation?


Weird, it isn’t paywalled for me. Here’s the whole article:

“Fawlty Towers,” the renowned 1970s British sitcom that starred John Cleese as a surly and snobbish hotel owner, will be rebooted with Mr. Cleese returning alongside his daughter Camilla Cleese, Castle Rock Entertainment announced on Tuesday.

The original show, which Radio Times declared the best British sitcom of all time in 2019 after a survey of comedy experts, ran for two seasons of six episodes each, in 1975 and 1979. Mr. Cleese, now 83, played Basil Fawlty, who was forced to contend with disasters and ludicrous situations while displaying all the kindness and hospitality of sandpaper.

In the reboot, Mr. Cleese’s character will open a boutique hotel with his daughter, whom he has just discovered he had, and deal with a more modern set of problems.

Mr. Cleese, an original member of the Monty Python comedy troupe, has recently been dealing with a more modern set of problems in his real life as well.

On social media, he has frequently railed against “cancel culture” and what he has deemed “woke” behaviors. He has signed up to host a show on GB News, a British right-wing television network, in which “no one will be canceled — and no topic will be too controversial for discussion,” the network said.

In 2020, an episode of “Fawlty Towers” was removed from some streaming services because it contained racial slurs. Mr. Cleese called the decision “stupid,” telling the newspaper The Age that “if you put nonsense words into the mouth of someone you want to make fun of you’re not broadcasting their views, you’re making fun of them.”

Some fans have also accused him of transphobia for his comments in support of J.K. Rowling, the author of the “Harry Potter” series.

As with other British series in the 1970s, the original “Fawlty Towers” was shown in the United States on PBS. Despite interest from American broadcasters, the show’s small number of episodes and half-hour run time, without commercials, made it unable to fit American TV schedules.

Castle Rock Entertainment did not say where the new series would air.

Mr. Cleese said in a statement that he and his daughter developed the concept for the reboot with one of its executive producers, Matthew George, a producer of the films “Wind River” and “A Private War.”

“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,” Mr. Cleese said. “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.”

Mr. George, the Reiners and Derrick Rossi are the executive producers of the new “Fawlty Towers” series.

“John Cleese is a comedy legend,” Mr. Reiner said in a statement. “Just the idea of working with him makes me laugh.”

Edit: I suggest we not discuss the parts of this article that might get political before mods have to intervene.


You probably have an online subscription to the NYT, right? I do too, but I’m at work right now and don’t have my password.

Cleese definitely has an old-school view of the role of comedy in society. He’s going to find out that, comedy legend or not, he’s not going to be able to do some of the things he did in the 70s.

This doesn’t interest me much, really. It’s still not really clear whether this is meant to pick up Basil’s story decades later or if it’s starting over from scratch, but either way… we’ve already seen this show and I doubt this will be able to top the “greatest British sitcom of all time.”


I do not. And it asked me to log in even though I didn’t. Maybe my adblocker did it?

I am really torn on whether or not I think a continuation, which it sounds like it sort of is, of Fawlty Towers with just John Cleese is worth it. And there have been several American remakes, all of which have failed.

There really is no Fawlty Towers without Andrew Sachs and Prunella Scales.


Well that’s probably going end the conversation pretty quickly. Which I’m perfectly fine with. What I’ve come to realize about Cleese recently is that while I previously thought his comedy used to be punching up and is now punching down, I now think he has always been punching out. He happened to be down at the start of his career so the only way out was up. Now that he’s on top it looks very different. One could well argue that it is equal-opportunity comedy, that all are held in the same contempt. But I see it as just cruelty.


He’s always been an angry man, I think, and in his heyday he was able to channel that anger into very effective comedy. But now he’s lost track of the lay of the land… he can’t read the room, which makes him even more frustrated and makes his attempts at comedy more like lashing out.


A post was merged into an existing topic: And Yet Another Terribad Reboot … Velma

Same here. I really want it to be good, because it’s John Cleese, and it’s Fawlty Towers, but so many things can go wrong here.


I’ll just leave this extract from his daughter’s Twitter feed.

I don’t think I’ll be watching.


MOD HAT: This does have the potential to veer into political talk; we appreciate you folks being aware of that, and let’s try not to bring anyone’s political views into the discussion.

Thanks much!


Though come to think of it, one of the character traits of Basil Fawlty is that he’s always wrong. Seems a bit daft for Cleese to put his opinions directly into the mouth of this character.

Might be worth watching for its ironic support of whatever he thinks he’s fighting against.


I’ve got the original FT discs and they’re a treasured posession. The show is so subversive and perfect as it is. A reboot? Well … if Cleese is doing it then it might work out but it’s going to be a difficult line to walk. The thing that made FT so great is that it had no sacred cows. It wasn’t afraid to go there and it remains today one of the world’s most perfect examples of The Farce because it wasn’t respectful of anyone or anything. It showed an imperfect world full of imperfect people with both good and bad and just how hilarious it all was when it spiraled out of control around a pompous hypocrite.

A reboot could still be just as hilarious today (heaven knows there is PLENTY of material to work with) … but the world is so polarized and hypersensitive about even the gentlest of ribbing that I don’t know if the same irreverence would be tolerated. And that’s kind of sad.


I’ve always seen the OG as a peerless skewering of a particular kind of Englishness - obsessed with rising above one’s station, but consumed by the frustration that comes with the fact that it is literally impossible to rise above one’s station in our society. Much seething self-loathing and petty acting out of whatever limited authority you have ensues.

So ultimately the driver for the comedy was always Basil’s outlook on life and how that led him to react to different situations. It isn’t clear to me how that character, projected into his 70’s, could be a conduit for comedy in the 2020’s. I know Basil types in that age bracket and boy are they not fun.

That said, a bit of 70’s style slapstick would be a tonic. Bring on the frying pans.


I just hope it’s not as disappointing as that remake of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin with Martin Clunes.


That one missed me completely. Which sounds like it is a good thing!


It was called Reggie Perrin and somehow got 2 series. I gave up after 2 episodes. How can you hope to top Leonard Rossiter anyway?

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Not to get political but it’s a strange pairing then to have Rob Reiner a noted liberal be part of this.
I love his and Mr Cleeses’ work so I will check it out and I hope both will avoid all of the obvious pitfalls that these reboots bring.


There is a segment of mostly older people who are still very liberal politically but don’t like the new rules of discourse, seeing them as just another aspect of the censorship they spent their lives fighting against. I know Cleese has been pretty savage in his tweets against the Trumps and Boris Johnsons and so forth.