John Cleese landed in hot water after mocking an Australian TV host by questioning if his Arabic name was “an anagram.”
The 83-year-old comedian appeared on Thursday’s Australian talk show, The Project, to promote his upcoming Australian tour for his live show, “An Evening with John Cleese.”
As the interview commenced, host Waleed Aly expressed his desire to discuss “Fawlty Towers,” the iconic series Cleese is currently rebooting. However, before Aly could finish his sentence, the Monty Python star interrupted, stating, “I don’t want to talk about Fawlty Towers. You can talk about Fawlty Towers,” and playfully turned his chair around.
Aly and his co-hosts, Sarah Harris, Sam Taunton, and Liz Ellis, took the remark humorously until Cleese turned back and quipped at the presenter.
Cleese remarked, “What kind of name is Waleed, anyway? Is it an anagram?”
Aly appeared confused but quickly responded, “No, it’s just Arabic. I take it your Arabic’s not great.”
The comedian then added, “I tried to learn it once. There’s about four Hs and two Ks.”
This awkward exchange occurred after Cleese shared details about the “Fawlty Towers” reboot, assuring it would be “hugely different” from the original series aired on BBC Two in 1975 and 1979. In 2019, a panel of television experts for Radio Times magazine gave the show the title of the greatest British sitcom ever.
Earlier this year, it was confirmed that Cleese and his daughter, Camilla Cleese, would be involved in the reboot. The new series will explore how the dramatic and cynical character Basil navigates the modern world. It will also feature Basil teaming up with a newly discovered daughter to run a boutique hotel. The show’s executive producers include actor Rob Reiner, actress Michele Reiner, director and producer Matthew George, and Derrick Rossi.
Cleese expressed, “It’s going to be very different because if it’s set in the Caribbean, it will have a multicultural cast, which will be very interesting. And my daughter Camilla will be playing the woman running the hotel. So there will be nothing visually or in terms of characters that anyone’s ever seen before; it will be a new attempt.”
He said: “There’s no attempt to copy it; you’ll see something completely different. I think it will probably be quite funny. Probably funnier than some of the stuff out there. So the fact that it won’t be as good as Fawlty Towers doesn’t bother me because if we were operating on that principle, I should have done Fawlty Towers and then retired.”