Comedian and actress Jennifer Saunders has expressed her unease regarding the upcoming revival of Fawlty Towers.
The sitcom, which is renowned as one of the greatest comedies of all time, is being brought back by John Cleese and his daughter Camilla. Cleese has teamed up with This Is Spinal Tap filmmaker Rob Reiner to work on the new series, which is already in development.
Speaking to Metro recently, Saunders was asked about her thoughts on the revival and stated that she felt “a slight dread” and questioned the need to revive such an adored show.
“I just thought, why? Why don’t you write a new thing? I don’t understand why you have to do that. You can’t beat the old one.”
A Cleese dismissal
The original Fawlty Towers aired in 1975 and 1979, and Cleese had previously dismissed the idea of a revival.
“You wanted Fawlty Towers to be as good as possible, and it’s done and you’re proud of it, and then you suddenly realise that the bar has now got too high.
“If I ever tried to do a Fawlty Towers-type sitcom again, everyone would say, ‘Well, it’s got its moments, but it’s not as good as Fawlty Towers’, so there’s not much point in doing that. You have to do different things.”
BBC “happy to talk” to Cleese
Meanwhile, Cleese’s initial assertion that the show wouldn’t appear on BBC has been questioned by the controller of BBC Comedy, who seemed to welcome the opportunity to chat.
Speaking at a showcase of upcoming BBC sitcoms, BBC Comedy Controller Jon Petrie confessed “We found out about it when everyone else did. I mean, we haven’t spoken to John. Obviously, it’s a legendary show. You know, we’d be happy to talk to John if he wanted to talk about it.”
Back when the show was announced on a GB News chat with Dan Wootton, John Cleese 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 ’60s, ’70s, and the beginning of the ’80s.
“That was the best time because the BBC was run by people with real personalities who loved the medium and who were operating out of confidence, which was okay because there wasn’t so much competition.”
What is the point in new Fawlty Towers?
Given Monty Python‘s 2014 reunion was ostenibly to pay off alimony and solicitors, it seems unlikely John Cleese needs the money. It could be argued he’s bored; he may also be keen to help daughter Camilla Cleese fulfil her career.
One thing we do know is that it will be very different from the original, without any of the supporting cast. There is also the possibility (hinted at by Reiner’s involvement) that the revived show may be a mockumentary.