Fawlty Towers

Fawlty Towers – John Cleese brings his beloved comedy to the West End

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“Listen, don’t mention the war. I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it all right.” 

John Cleese has revealed that he has adapted his most famous of comedies for the stage. Fawlty Towers, written by Cleese and co-star Connie Booth, ran for 12 episodes between 1975 and 1979 and is often held up as a pinnacle of situation comedy.

Set at a struggling guest house in Torquay, the show chronicled the misadventures of Cleese’s Basil Fawlty and his wife Sybil, played by Prunella Scales, as they tried to keep their business going whilst all else fell down around them.

The pair were assisted by chambermaid Polly (Connie Booth), and the misunderstood and put-upon Spanish waiter Manuel (Andrew Sachs).

Fawlty Towers - Basil attacks his car with a tree branch

For the stage, Cleese has fashioned a two-hour play from three episodes – ‘The Hotel Inspector’, ‘The Germans’ and ‘Communication Problems’. The show previously ran in Australia in 2016.

The director is Caroline Jay Ranger whose credits include Monty Python Live and Only Fools and Horses: The Musical.

Speaking to The Telegraph, John Cleese said:

“What a thrill to be bringing Fawlty Towers to the West End for the first time. We’ve been involved in the casting process for some time, being constantly reminded of what a wealth of acting talent we have in Britain – sorting the very, very, very good from the merely very, very good.

“Finally, we assembled a top-class group of comedy actors who will bring the show to the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue.

“I’ve adapted three of my favourite episodes for the stage and written one huge finale, which will bring together the endings of all three episodes.”

Fawlty Towers West End cast 2024
Manuel (Hemi Yeroham), Polly (Victoria Fox), Basil (Adam Jackson-Smith) and Sybil (Anna-Jane Casey) (c) Trevor Leighton

That “very very very good” cast is led by Adam Jackson-Smith as Basil. Joining him are Anna-Jane Casey as Sybil, Hemi Yeroham as Manuel and Victoria Fox as Polly.

The show premieres at London’s Apollo Theatre on 4th May, 2024, with tickets on sale from February 7th.

Fawlty Towers Television Revival

Last year, Cleese announced that he and his daughter were working on a Fawlty Towers revival for Castle Rock Television. However, there’s no mention of that alongside the stage show. We’ll keep you posted.