John Cleese won't make Fawlty Towers reboot with BBC as he hints at Caribbean island set

  • Bang Showbiz
  • 10 February 2023
John Cleese

John Cleese tells more about the Fawlty Towers reboot

'Fawlty Towers' star John Cleese says he will not make the reboot with the BBC because he won't get enough "freedom", and the actor has hinted he might set the new series on a Caribbean island

John Cleese isn't making the 'Fawlty Towers' reboot with the BBC, and hinted he will set the show on a Caribbean island.

The 83-year-old actor is making a new series of the iconic sitcom, which spanned 12 episodes over two series from 1975 to 1979 on the BBC, but the new series won't be made with the corporation because John doesn't think the show will get as much "freedom".

He said: "I’m not doing it with the BBC because I won’t get the freedom.

"I was terribly lucky before, because I was working for the BBC in the late Sixties, Seventies, and the beginning of the Eighties.

"That was the best time because the BBC was run by people with real personality who loved the medium and who were operating out of confidence, which was okay because there wasn’t so much competition.

"Then John Birt came in and said if the BBC didn’t match the viewing figures that the commercial channels were getting they’d get their license revoked.

"So then they started going for the biggest audiences and tended to go for the lowest common denominator while always denying they were doing that."

The original two series are set in a fictional hotel in the seaside town of Torquay, but John – who is rebooting the programme with his daughter, Camilla Cleese – has hinted his character Basil Fawlty may now run a hotel on a Caribbean island.

Speaking on GB News, he added: "My daughter and I have been writing together for 16 years – which people don’t know – and she met a guy and they chatted briefly and we were all in Las Vegas together because I was doing a show with her and we had dinner and we suddenly realised that if we do a sequel, first of all it’s interesting.

"Secondly, it doesn’t rely upon Manuel – dear Andy Sachs who’s not with us anymore, and Prue Scales who has difficulty remembering stuff – and certainly almost everyone else is dead.

"When I look at old clips now all these wonderful English character actors aren’t with us anymore, so suddenly we thought that if the only continuing character is Basil, then we can come up with something surprising.

"Then we thought, 'Where?' Not in a small English town, but somewhere more fun and much more different – say a Caribbean island or something like that with a small bijou hotel with a few rich people coming to stay!"

Asked if the show may have a similar vibe to 'The White Lotus' – a comedy-drama about employees and guests of the fictional White Lotus resort chain, with the first series set in Hawaii and the second in Sicily – he added: "That’s what my wife was saying to me yesterday.

"If you put it in the Caribbean, it becomes very multi-racial.

"People in the hotel business come from everywhere, so you can bring lots of different people together. The characteristic of 'Fawlty Towers' was the pressure cooker atmosphere created in the hotel.

"The guy who commissioned the show, after the very first show, he said: 'John, you‘re going to have to get them out of the hotel more.' "