Fawlty Towers is rebooting: who is its new star, John Cleese’s daughter Camilla Cleese?


John Cleese has confirmed that, after years of speculation, he will be returning to run television’s most famous hotel in a reboot of Fawlty Towers.

The Monty Python star last played Basil Fawlty in 1979 and, much like the woke-confused actor himself, the character will be having trouble “navigating the modern world” in the new series.

But he won’t be alone, as his real-life daughter Camilla Cleese will write and co-star to introduce the hapless and un-PC Basil to the 2020s.

Her father, 82, has most recently been seen complaining about “cancel culture” on a GB News slot but his return to acting was announced earlier this month.

Fawlty Towers was named the greatest British sitcom of all time in a 2019 Radio Times poll.

The two-series show, which featured on BBC2 in 1975 and 1979, followed the fortunes of Torquay hotelier Basil and his wife Sybil as they tried to keep their business and marriage afloat.

Andrew Sachs as Manuel the Spanish waiter and John Cleese as hotelier Basil Fawlty in the BBC’s Fawlty Towers (PA Media)
Andrew Sachs as Manuel the Spanish waiter and John Cleese as hotelier Basil Fawlty in the BBC’s Fawlty Towers (PA Media)

However, after three failed US remakes, Cleese said in 2009 there would never be another episode.

“The problem is, when you do something that is generally accepted as being very good, a horrible problem arises, which is: how do you top it?” he said.

The “problem” seems to have been solved with the help of veteran director Rob Reiner. His American film and television production company Castle Rock Entertainment announced on it had agreed a deal with Cleese to bring back the renowned series.

A short statement said it would “explore how Cleese’s over-the-top, cynical and misanthropic Basil Fawlty navigates the modern world”.

Reiner, his wife and actress Michelle Reiner, director and producer Matthew George and Derrick Rossi will all act as executive producers.

Cleese said when he first met George “he offered an excellent idea”, which led to “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,” he said.

“Camilla and I look forward enormously to expanding it into a series.”

It is unknown if the new hotel will again be in Torquay, south-west England, or if any of the original cast will return. A release date has also not yet been confirmed.

What will be necessary, though, is to modernise the series. The original show’s jokes about Spanish waiter Manuel and Germans may be considered inappropriate for modern audiences.

So who is Camilla Cleese and what could she bring to the series?

Who is Camilla Cleese?

She is one of two of Cleese’s daughters and the only child he had with his second of four wives, Barbara Trentham — an American actress.

Cleese’s first child Cynthia was born in 1971 and Camilla was born in England in January 1984. She is now based in Los Angeles.

A former model and professional equestrian, she began pursuing a career in entertainment after attending the University of California in Santa Barbara.

Like her father, she has pursued a career in comedy and been a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival since 2014.

She describes herself on Twitter as: “Comedian/ writer/ actor/ long legs/ smart ass.” Most frequently she has performed her own stand-up routines in the US, Mexico and Canada, but also has a few acting credits to her name.

She also seems to be aligned to her father’s anti-woke rhetoric, recently tweeting: “The only thing scarier than WWIII is that the generation who are of fighting age think using the wrong pronouns are acts of violence, are triggered by loud noises and words like “guns” and wouldn’t want to shoot someone in case it hurt their feelings.”

Cleese has also used the platform to show her funny side. “I once was in an elevator with John (sic) Hamm and had to resist the urge to say “wanna make a Hamm and Cleese sandwich?” for 11 floors,” she tweeted in 2020.

It is not known whether she is currently in a relationship. However, she famously dated Entourage and Mr Selfridge star Jeremy Piven in 2008.