Fawlty Towers shock return as John Cleese’s Basil character has a fresh new look

Richard Bevan
Richard Bevan
4 Min Read

The legendary John Cleese is passing the Fawlty Towers torch, as he steps aside from his iconic role of Basil Fawlty for the West End stage revival. The news broke as the Monty Python pioneer revealed his plans to bring the classic BBC comedy to life on London’s Apollo Theatre Shaftesbury Avenue.

The revival, set to debut in May and run until September, has Cleese at the helm, adapting three fan-favourite episodes for the stage, including The Hotel Inspector and The Germans from the first series and Communication Problems from the second. Despite the palpable excitement, Cleese himself won’t be reprising his role, stating, ‘I do hope some of you will come to the Apollo to laugh together. And laugh. And laugh…’

The casting process, personally supervised by Cleese, has assembled a stellar ensemble of comedy actors, promising a memorable run at the Apollo Theatre. Adam Jackson-Smith takes the lead as Basil, alongside Anna-Jane Casey as his long-suffering wife, Sybil. Hemi Yeroham portrays the beloved character Manuel, initially played by Andrew Sachs.

All Change For Much Anticipated Fawlty Towers Musical

Director Caroline Jay Ranger, renowned for her work on Only Fools And Horses: The Musical and Monty Python Live, brings her expertise to the stage adaptation. Cleese expressed his satisfaction with the casting, highlighting the wealth of acting talent in Britain and the top-class comedic ensemble chosen to carry on the Fawlty Towers legacy.

The play’s synopsis sets the stage for hilarity: Basil, ever-eager to impress potential hotel inspectors, finds himself entangled with a party of Germans, the troublesome Mrs Richards, and the challenges of hiding a gambling win from his watchful wife, Sybil. The chaos unfolds with the help of Polly, the unflappable assistant, and Manuel, the hapless trainee waiter from Barcelona.

Fawlty Towers, originally broadcast on BBC Two in 1975 and 1979, quickly became a classic portraying Basil Fawlty’s high-strung antics. The sitcom, created by Cleese and Connie Booth, follows the misadventures of the Fawltys as they navigate the challenges of running a hotel and maintaining their sanity.

The return of Fawlty Towers to the West End marks almost 50 years since its first recording in December 1974. Cleese’s adaptation not only pays homage to the original sitcom but also introduces a new generation to the timeless humour that has garnered widespread acclaim.

One Of Britain’s Greatest Ever Sit-Coms

The significance of Fawlty Towers in British television history cannot be overstated. In 2019, the show was crowned the greatest British sitcom of all time by a panel of television experts for the Radio Times magazine. Its popularity and cultural impact continue to resonate, making the West End stage revival a highly anticipated event for longtime fans and newcomers alike.

As Cleese and the cast gear up for a laughter-filled run at the Apollo Theatre, audiences can expect a nostalgic trip down memory lane with the comedic brilliance that defined Fawlty Towers. Don’t miss the chance to witness the chaos and hilarity unfold live on stage, from Torquay to the West End, as Fawlty Towers returns to captivate audiences again.

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