It’s been well over 40 years since Fawlty Towers was first broadcast on television screens across the UK – and yesterday, it was announced that a long-awaited reboot is finally in the works.
The original series, which ran from 1975 to 1979, followed inept hotel manager Basil Fawlty, played by John Cleese, as he tried to keep his Torquay hotel and marriage afloat.
While much of the plot remains shrouded in mystery, it has been confirmed that the story will look at hotel manager Basil’s relationship with his daughter, who he has only recently discovered he is father to.
As well as reprising the role of Basil, John, 83, has confirmed that is writing the brand new episodes of the BBC show with his comedian daughter Camilla Cleese, 39.
Although it only ran for two series, the show turned stars John Cleese, Pruenella Scales, Connie Booth, Andrew Sachs and Ballard Berkeley into stars.
Fawlty Towers aired from 1975 to 1979. This week, it was announced a long-awaited reboot is in the works
Here FEMAIL takes a look back at what happened to the original cast of the hit show as viewers prepare for the highly-anticipated third series.
John Cleese – Basil Fawlty
Born in Weston-super-Mare in October 1939, John Cleese’s father Reginald worked as an insurance salesman while his mother Muriel was the daughter of a successful auctioneer.
At the age of 13, John was given a scholarship to study at the prestigious Clifton College in Bristol – where he first discovered his talent for writing, acting and performing.
After taking his A-Levels, John continued at the school for two years to teach English, History and Latin before then going on to study Law at the University of Cambridge’s Downing College.
During his time at university, John became involved in the Footlights theatrical club where he met fellow Monty Python founding member Graham Chapman.
Following a successful run at the 1963 Edinburgh Fringe Festival John and his fellow co-stars took their show Cambridge Circus to London’s West End and Broadway in New York – where he met his first wife Connie Booth.
In 1969, John Cleese became a household name when Monty Python’s Flying Circus debuted on the BBC – with him starring as characters such as Sergeant Major and Mr Praline in several iconic skits.
Left: John Cleese pictured in his role as Basil Fawlty. Right: The actor, 83, pictured in 2019
Six years later, John and Connie co-wrote Fawlty Towers – which went on to win three BAFTA awards.
The couple later revealed that the character of Basil Fawlty was based on hotelier Donald Sinclair – who they had met while the Monty Python team were staying at the Gleneagles hotel in Torquay.
John later went on to describe Donald as ‘the most wonderfully rude man I have ever met’.
After the series drew to a close, John went on to star in A Fish Called Wanda, Rat Race and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
More recently, he appeared in two James Bond films where he played agents R and Q before being cast as Nearly Headless Nick in the Harry Potter franchise.
Following his split from Connie Booth in 1981, he was then married to American model Barbara Trentham from 1981 to 1990. Two years later, he married psychotherapist Alyce Cleese before their divorce in 2008.
John has been with his current wife jewellery designer Jennifer Wade, 51, since 2012. In a 2020 interview with The Express, John described his current partner as the ‘most wonderfully playful woman’.
He gushed: ‘We spend all our time hiding in cupboards and trying to scare each other. I remember not long ago, I got back to the flat and I looked around and called and no sign.’
John Cleese famously played Hitler in the Monty Python sketches. In 2021, he cancelled a talk at the University of Cambridge over fears of being ‘blacklisted’ because of his Hitler jokes
John Cleese picture in character as Basil Fawlty. The comedy has been voted the greatest British TV show of all time, according to a poll by the British Film Institute
John Cleese pictured starring in the 1986 film Clockwise starring Penelope Wilton and Sharon Maiden
In November 2021, the Fawlty Towers star ‘blacklisted’ himself from a Cambridge Union event after the debating society banned a historian for performing an impression of Adolf Hitler.
The comedian, who famously impersonated the Nazi dictator in a Monty Python sketch, and again in Fawlty Towers, said he is ‘blacklisting’ himself ‘before someone else does’.
He wrote on Twitter at the time: ‘I apologise to anyone at Cambridge who was hoping to talk with me, but perhaps some of you can find a venue where woke rules do not apply.’
Filmmaker Rob Reiner, his wife and actress Michele Reiner, director and producer Matthew George and Derrick Rossi will act as executive producers on the reboot o the series.
Earlier this week, John said he is excited to work with Camilla to expand their new ideas into a series.
John Cleese and is second wife Barbara Trentham attending 41st Annual Writer’s Guild of America Awards on March 20, 1989
John Cleese, his ex-wife Alyce Cleese and their daughter Camilla Cleese attending 61st Annual Academy Awards on March 29, 1989
John, 83, has been married to jewellery designer Jennifer Wade 51, since 2012. The couple pictured in May 2013
He said: ‘What I like about Matt is that, unlike many producers, he really ‘gets’ the creative process.
‘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.
‘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.’
Prunella Scales – Sybil Fawlty
Prunella Scales’ Sybil Fawlty – Basil’s much more calm and collected wife – was the perfect ‘straight man’ in the comedy which delighted Britons across the country
Prunella Scales’ Sybil Fawlty was Basil’s much more calm and collected wife, who delighted Britons across the country.
She gave the character handfuls of iconic, quirky traits, including a shrill laugh and penchant for talking to her friends on the phone when she should be working.
After wrapping up with Fawlty Towers in 1979, hence securing her legacy in comic acting, Prunella – now 90 – went to have roles in other sitcoms, including stints on BBC Radio 4 and roles on After Henry, Smelling of Roses and Ladies of Letters.
She also went on to have a handful of film roles throughout the 80s and 90s.
She gave the character handfuls of iconic, quirky traits, including a shrill laugh and penchant for talking to her friends on the phone when she should be working
Prunella Scale and Joan Anderson Thames pictured starring in the ITV sitcom After Henry, where she played Sarah France
Prunella starred in the 1987 drama, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, alongside Maggie Smith and 1992 period drama Howards End, with Anthony Hopkins, Helena Bonham-Carter and Emma Thompson.
The star continued to act after the late 90s, and was for 10 years a familiar face on Tesco ads.
The iconic actress has even had a rose breed created in her honour.
Prunella reprised Sybil in a 2007 Children In Need special.
However the actress ended her 67-year acting career in early 2020 following her 2014 Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis.
Timothy and Prunella in 2016. The star continued to act after the late 90s, and was for 10 years a familiar face on Tesco ads
Speaking to The Mirror in 2021, Pruenella’s son Samuel detailed: ‘She still recognises us and she knows I have two children, so that’s really good.’
Samuel added that despite her deteriorating hearing, which makes conversation difficult, she is ‘in good spirits’.
He continued: ‘You can never quite tell with dementia what sort of personality it’s going to leave a person with, but on the whole she’s quite cheery. At the moment I’m interviewing them both about their lives, because I want to write a book.’
Samuel revealed he spent lockdown interviewing his father about his life, twice a week, before also interviewing his mother, so their memories can be preserved.
However, he added that due to his mother’s lack of short-term memory the task was harder and he had to be very patient.
Prunella and her husband Timothy were forced to quit their Channel 4 TV show, Great Canal Journeys due to her ailing health in January 2020.
Connie Booth – Polly Sherman
Right: Connie Booth pictured in character as Polly Sherman in 1975. Right: The actress pictured in 2017
Born in December 1940, American actress Connie Booth grew up in Indianapolis and met her first husband John Cleese when he was starring in his Broadway show Cambridge Circus.
Although she appeared in a handful of Monty Python episodes in the early 1970s, Connie became a household name thanks to her role as clueless waitress Polly in Fawlty Towers – which she co-wrote with John.
Appearing in a 2009 Gold documentary about the show, the actress opened up on her working relationship with her ex-husband.
She explained: ‘He trusted my instincts as an actress so I didn’t have any problems with saying what I didn’t think was funny […]
‘What John was able to help me with was coming forward and creating ideas.’
Connie retrained as a psychotherapist in 1995. The former actress pictured in 2009 after filming a documentary about Fawlty Towers
John Cleese pictured with his and Connie’s daughter Cynthia in 2008. The father and daughter starred in the 1998 movie A Fish Called Wanda
But despite their ability to work together, the couple’s relationship broke down in the late 1970s – with their divorce being finalised just months before Fawlty Towers ended in 1979.
After this, Connie went on to star in a 1980 BBC adaptation of Little Lord Fauntleroy as well as bagging the lead role in the 1981 drama The Story of Ruth.
What’s more, the couple’s daughter Cynthia also followed her parents into the world of showbiz and become an actress herself – appearing alongside John Cleese in the critically acclaimed movie A Fish Called Wanda.
In 1995, Connie turned her back on the world of acting and retrained as a psychotherapist – which is the same profession as John’s third wife Alyce.
In 2010, John Cleese described how he fell in love with Connie at first sight.
When asked what is different about his relationship with his fourth wife Jennifer Wade, he said: ‘In the past I was more ticking boxes, not having an immediate being-in-love thing, which I did have with Connie.’
Speaking of his relationship with the jewellery designer, he continued: ‘I laugh with Jenny in a way I haven’t since I was 10.
‘It’s the utterly hopeless laughter of the 10-year-old and it’s wonderful to have that back.’
Andrew Sachs – Manuel
The late German-born British actor made everyone howl with laughter as unnerved Spanish waiter Manuel – a role which earned him a BAFTA nomination
The late German-born British actor made everyone howl with laughter as unnerved Spanish waiter Manuel – a role which earned him a BAFTA nomination.
And he later went on to be successful with voiceover work, with a handful of his work in-character as the distressed hotel employee he played in Fawlty Towers.
Andrew Sachs was a familiar voice to hear in documentaries, including BBC’s Troubleshooter and ITV’s …from Hell.
He also lent his voice for children’s characters, including Puzzle the Donkey in a production of The Last Battle by C.S Lewis with other roles in William’s Wish Wellingtons, Little Grey Rabbit and Asterix and the Big Fight.
Andrew starred in a few films and TV shows from the 90s to the 2000s, and also went on to land a Coronation Street storyline in 2009 – as Norris’ brother Ramsay.
In 2016, Andrew died at the age of 86 following a secret four-year battle with dementia that left him wheelchair-bound and unable to speak.
His wife Melody, who cared for him tirelessly, said: ‘My heart has been broken every day for a long time.’ The couple pictured in 2014
His wife Melody, who cared for him tirelessly, said: ‘My heart has been broken every day for a long time.’
She also revealed that she collapsed while caring for him. After developing acute stress, she was taken into intensive care but ‘got over it real quick’ and bounced back so that she could carry on looking after him.
She said the couple were happy until the end, adding: ‘I never once heard him grumble.’
Melody told how her husband had been diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2012. It is the second most common form of the disease after Alzheimer’s.
Melody, 85, said: ‘It wasn’t all doom and gloom, he still worked for two years.
Andrew Sachs appeared in ITV’s Emmerdalev in 2009. He played the character of Ramsay Clegg
‘We were happy, we were always laughing, we never had a dull moment. He had dementia for four years and we didn’t really notice it at first until the memory started going.
‘It didn’t get really bad until quite near the end. I nursed Andrew, I was there for every moment of it.’ The actor died on November 23, 2016, and his family and close friends gathered for his funeral and burial in North London.
In 2008, Sachs was inadvertently thrust into the headlines when he fell victim to a cruel prank by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross. The affair became known as Sachsgate.
Melody said: ‘Dementia is the most awful illness. It sneaks in in the night, when you least expect it. It took a long time for Andy’s brain to go.
‘Even about a month before he died he was sitting in the garden and chatting away.’
In 2016, Andrew died at the age of 86 following a secret four-year battle with dementia that left him wheelchair-bound and unable to speak. Pictured in 2015
After a bout of pneumonia that nearly killed him, doctors said he would need to go into a home. In 2016, he moved into Denville Hall, a private care home in Northwood, West London, for retired actors.
Melody, who is mother of Andrew’s daughter Kate, said: ‘I couldn’t think of anywhere nicer than Denville Hall. The staff are wonderful.
‘He was in there for eight months and it was summertime. We sat in the garden together. It was wonderful. I used to read to him, tell him stories. We had a happy time.’ Speaking from the couple’s five-bedroom home in North-West London the night before her husband’s burial, Melody said she still felt his presence.
‘Don’t feel sorry for me because I had the best life with him,’ she said. ‘I had the best husband and we really loved each other.
‘One thing about Andrew is that I never once heard him grumble, I never found him once without a smile on his face. We laughed because we’re both silly.
‘We’re both as daft as brushes, we were married for 57 years, we loved each other very deeply and it was a pleasure looking after him. I miss him terribly.’
Ballard Berkeley – Major Gowen
Major Gowen – played by the late Ballard Berkeley – was one of Fawlty Tower’s permanent residents
Major Gowen – played by the late Ballard Berkeley – was one of Fawlty Tower’s permanent residents.
The actor – who passed away in 1988 – went on to continue acting work until his last days, dying just a year before the release of his final role, as Head of the Army in an animated production of Roald Dahl’s The BFG.
However he is most remembered for Major Gowen – who is perhaps most known for the outdated racist remarks made by his character on the show, which the BBC in 2021 edited when re-airing the show.
The move came less than a year after actor John Cleese, who played Basil Fawlty in the British sitcom, slammed the BBC-owned UKTV for removing an episode of Fawlty Towers which featured racist language made by the Major.
The late Ballard Berkeley is most remembered for Major Gowen – who is perhaps most known for the outdated racist remarks made by his character on the show, which the BBC in 2021 edited when re-airing the show
Ballard Berkeley pictured in the 1971 sitcom Bless This House, which ran for six seasons on ITV in the 1970s
Cleese branded the channel ‘stupid’ for not realising the show was mocking the Major’s use of the ‘n-word’ and added: ‘We were not supporting his views, we were making fun of them.’
The episode first aired in 1975 and sees Basil Fawlty goose-stepping around while shouting ‘don’t mention the war’ in front of a group of visiting Germans.
It also contains scenes showing the long-term hotel resident Major Gowen, played by Ballard Berkeley, recall the time he took a female friend to watch a game of cricket at The Oval.
The Major says: ‘The strange thing was that throughout the morning she kept referring to the Indians as n*****s.’ He adds: ‘”No, no, no, no,” I said, “n*****s are West Indians, these people are w**s”.
Undated photo shows Ballard Berkeley putting on makeup ahead of a performance in his early career
Speaking from his home in LA in 2020, Cleese told TheAge: ‘One of the things I’ve learned in the last 180 years is that people have very different senses of humour.
‘Some of them understand 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.’
He added: ‘The Major was an old fossil left over from decades before. We were not supporting his views, we were making fun of them. If they can’t see that, if people are too stupid to see that, what can one say?’
David Kelly – Mr O’Reilly
David Kelly (left) played hapless builder Mr O’Reilly in the Fawlty Towers episode ‘The Builders’ in 1975
The actor passed away at the age of 82 in 2012. In the final years of his life, he played Grandpa Joe in the Tim Burton adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Born in Dublin in July 1929, David Kelly first began acting at the age of eight before he was then accepted into The Abbey School of Acting.
Worried that he wouldn’t break into the highly competitive world of performing arts, the Irish actor also trained as a calligrapher.
But fortunately for David, his gamble paid off and he bagged his first starring role in O’Dea’s your Man in 1964 before then going on to appear in BBC comedy Me Mammy.
In 1973, he was cast as Mick Cavan in Emmerdale Farm.
In 2005, he was cast as Grandpa Joe in the Tim Burton remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Pictured with Freddie Highmore and Jonny Depp
Despite only appearing in a handful of episodes, David’s role of inept builder Mr O’Reilly was met with critical acclaim and turned him into a fan favourite.
In 2005, he was cast as Grandpa Joe in the Tim Burton remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory before then appearing in Stardust opposite Robert De Niro.
The actor – who was married to actress Laurie Morton from 1961 – passed away of pneumonia at the age of 82 in 2012.
Brian Hall – Terry Hughes
Brian Hall (centre) played useless chef Terry Hughes in the hit BBC series from 1975 to 1979
The actor (centre) had previously appeared in the BBC show Softly Softly, which was a spin-off of Z-Cars
Born in Brighton in 1937, Brian Hall initially worked as a taxi driver before taking up acting after connecting with an agent.
In the early days of his career, the star appeared in a production of Crete and Sergeant Pepper.
Before being cast as hopeless chef Terry Hughes, Brian appeared in several episodes of the 1966 show Softly Softly.
He then went on to play Alan in the 1980 film The Long Good Friday.
Brian sadly passed away at the age of 59 in September 1997 after being diagnosed with cancer three years before.
In November last year, John Cleese paid tribute to his late co-star on what would have been his 85th birthday.
He tweeted: ‘I was so fond of Brian… He also drove one of London’s famous black cabs When he asked me how he should play the chef, I told him “He’s on the run from the police” He said he didn’t need anything else.’
Renee Roberts – Miss Gatsby
Renee Roberts (left) pictured in character as Miss Gatsby with her co-star Gilly Flower, who played Miss Tibbs
Renee Roberts pictured leaving a London court in 1954 after defending her friend Walter Henry Hensby in a murder case
Born in 1908, Renee Roberts – who died at the age of 88 in 1996 – starred in all 12 episodes of the show and was one of three permanent residents at Basil’s hotel.
In 1954, she famously defended her friend Walter Henry Hensby in court after he was arrested on suspicion of murdering Violet McGrath – who was the mother-of-law of film star Michael Rennie.
After the show ended in 1979, the actress went on to appear in BBC comedy Only Fools and Horses.
Renee Roberts played Miss Gatsby in Fawlty Towers for its four-year run. The actress passed away in 1996
She was married to comedian Ronald Frankau and the couple shared two children together.
In December 2022, it was announced that one of Renee’s old scripts – containing an unaired scene – would be sold at auction in Bristol for upwards of £2,000.
Gilly Flower – Miss Tibbs
Gilly Flower – who played other permanent Fawlty Tower resident Miss Tibbs – was also born in 1908.
Gilly Flower played the third permanent resident of Fawlty Towers, Miss Agatha Tibbs. The actress passed away at the age of 93 in 2001
Before being cast as Miss Tibbs, the actress also dabbled in modelling and appeared in various hat adverts.
Before Fawlty Towers came along, Gilly appeared in the black-and-white sitcom Steptoe and Son on the BBC as well as the adaptation of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.
However, the star is most famous for her portrayal of the cheeky pensioner Miss Tibbs and appeared in every episode of the show before her death in 2001.
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